Stay Safe Playing Near Water

May 13, 2024 julie geiser

Many summer fun activities in Nebraska involve being in or around water. Remember these tips to make sure everyone comes home safe at the end of the day.


Children age 12 or under must wear a life jacket.

Photo by Julie Geiser, Nebraskaland Magazine

By Julie Geiser

For Swimmers

• Only swim in designated swimming areas, especially in large reservoirs where there are boaters and personal watercraft users.
• Don’t dive into water less than 12 feet deep. Enter the water feet-first to check for depth and to avoid head or neck injuries or drownings. Never dive into rivers.
• Be cautious of drop-offs that can happen fast and catch you or children off guard.
• Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Small children should always wear a life jacket while swimming. It only takes seconds for a child to drown.
• Avoid areas with strong moving currents — which can happen in rivers or even some lakes — and possible underwater debris.
• Never swim in cold-water temperatures. Water should be at least 67 degrees Fahrenheit before swimming occurs. Water temperatures below that can affect breathing and may induce hypothermia.

For Boaters, Personal Watercraft Users and Paddlers

• Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• When recreating on a river, leave a float plan with a friend or family member, including where you are going and when you expect to return.
• Be sure your boat is in good running order and legally equipped. Carry a life jacket for each person on board your boat and a type IV throwable device. No child age 12 or under is allowed aboard any vessel when not wearing a life jacket that properly fits them.
• When pulling a person on skis, a tube or similar device, you must have a person age 12 or older as an observer unless your vessel is equipped with a wide-angle rearview mirror. A hunter orange flag of at least 12 square inches must be displayed when a skier/tuber is down in the water. The skier/tuber must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Pay attention to the weather as you recreate. Severe weather can cause large waves and produce lightning. Exit the water before storms arise.

Don’t dive in water less than 12 feet deep. Photo by Jeff Kurrus, Nebraskaland Magazine.

Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1985, is required to successfully complete a Boating Safety Course and possess a course certificate while operating a boat or personal watercraft. You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska.

Read the 2024 Boating Guide and know the rules and regulations regarding state waterway markers, right of way and navigation rules and unlawful practices — including boating under the influence.

Life Jacket Loaner Stations

Several state recreation areas across Nebraska are housing life jacket loaner stations. These stations are available for anyone of any size to borrow a life jacket for the day.

The stations are available at the Lake McConaughy Visitor Center, and Enders, Lake Maloney, Johnson Lake, Sherman Reservoir and Minatare state recreation areas.

The post Stay Safe Playing Near Water appeared first on Nebraskaland Magazine.

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