Spending the 4th of July on the water? Have fun but stay safe

A message from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department:

Everyone should have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department is urging everyone to stay safe while enjoying water-related recreation such as boating or swimming.

Individuals and families should plan ahead before enjoying a lake or swimming pool. A water safety plan should include properly fitting life jackets, necessary safety equipment, and a sober operator if using a boat.

The Sheriff’s Water Patrol Unit will have additional patrols between Friday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 5. Deputies and volunteer Special Deputies will be available to assist boaters who find themselves in distress or have questions about area water regulations, they will also actively be patrolling for boaters who are intoxicated.

Life jackets are required to be worn by children less than 10 years old when on a boat. Boats must also have an accessible life jacket for each person on a boat, and at least one throwable device. Personal watercraft operators and passengers, no matter the age, must wear a life jacket.

On Lake Minnetonka, there are free life jackets available that boaters may borrow for the day. The Kids Don’t Float program is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, Safe Kids Northwest Metro Minneapolis and North Memorial Medical Center. The life jackets are found inside storage containers located at three public boat launch locations: Gray’s Bay, Spring Park Bay, and Maxwell Bay.

Safety reminders for boaters

Boaters should slow down and make an extra effort to act in a courteous manner on crowded lakes and rivers.

Designate a sober boat operator prior to your day of boating.

It is highly recommended that all passengers wear life jackets during boating.

Be aware of the danger of a boat propeller. People in the water, who are re-entering the boat, have been injured by props.

Safety reminders for swimmers

WATCH – your kids

Parents must use active supervision when children are in – or near – the water. In 70 percent of cases where young children drowned, one or both parents were nearby. Being nearby isn’t enough. Parents must focus on kids and avoid distractions such as using cell phones or talking with other adults.

Parent supervision is needed even when lifeguards are on duty.

WEAR – a life jacket

Weak swimmers or non-swimmers should wear life jackets in the water – including swimming pools. Adult supervision is needed even when using a life jacket.

Do not rely on water wings or other inflatable devices.

LEARN – to swim & learn about water safety

Teach your kids to swim. Adults must know how to swim too.

Keep safety equipment near pools, such as a shepherd’s hook. If attempting a rescue, hand something to the struggling person or pull them to safety with the hook.

Use safety precautions with backyard kiddie pools. (One child drowns every five days in portable pools.)

Learn CPR and learn more about water safety.