Summer is here and what’s better than getting out on the water to beat the heat? But do you know all the water safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying the water? The area offers a lot of different types of water to enjoy during the summer but we also have a few different departments that work to make sure we all stay safe.

They had some information and tips to help us enjoy the summer to its fullest while staying safe.

Each yearthere arethousands of boating and drowning fatalities on lakes and rivers, according to Karla Zeutenhorst, a Park Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Gavin’s Point Project. According to national statistics, around 737 people aged 5 to 24 drowned in 2014 and drowning is the second leading cause of death for people aged 5 to 24. Yankton County Search and Rescue works with Yankton County EMS to spend a lot of time promoting water and boating safety to Yankton county citizens, especially the youth. For Joe Keeton, Law Enforcement Specialist with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the ultimate goal is voluntary compliance. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has officers checking every day, including busy weekends, to make sure everyone is being safe and equipment is being used correctly.

There are numerous organizations that offer safety courses such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Corps. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offer a safety course for kids but Greg Wagner, Public Information Officer, says Nebraska also offers hands on activities at their outdoor expos for adults. Greg Wagner believes it’s “best if you learn on water.” South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks print handbooks that people can pick up that have all the rules and laws to know when going out on the water. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks also offer nationally recognized online courses, as well as paddling courses and safety equipment courses. Yankton County Search and Rescue work with Yankton County EMS with multiple events that provide the public with an opportunity to get a life jacket.

They host April Pools Day, as well as an annual life jacket giveaway which puts hundreds of free life jackets into the community. They have coordinated the construction of two youth life jacket loaner stations, one in Yankton and one across the river in Nebraska. They also go to school and neighborhood programs to promote safety topics with the kids. They provide literature at each event. In terms of being uneducated in water safety, it’s almost a little hard to not know something.

While there are many opportunities to learn water safety, some water safety myths exist. Greg Wagner says one common myth he’s heard is “I swim well; I don’t need a lifejacket.” Nebraska requires a life jacket for everyone 12 and under. It’s strongly advised for 13 and older, and it’s required to have 1 life jacket per person on the watercraft.

Joe Keeton has heard that just having a life jacket on the boat is good enough. “To work, it’s gotta be worn.” Keeton says that the technology has advanced that the days of uncomfortable life jackets are done and they require all their officers to be wearing a life jacket. Karla Zeutenhorst has heard “it won’t happen to me.” Zeutenhorst said that most people who drown in lakes and rivers know how to swim and are within 10-30 feet of safety and that many never intended to be in the water. While some of these myths are quite common it is important to know the truth when heading out to enjoy one of the area’s many bodies of water, especially when it comes to avoiding getting in trouble with the law.

To ensure that everyone enjoys their summer on the water while staying safe, here are some helpful tips.

1. Always wear your life jackets. There are plenty of different options to the age-old bulky orange life jacket. In some states, it’s required to wear one or to at least have one per person on board. It only takes an adult about 60 seconds to drown and on average it takes 10 minutes for a strong swimmer to put on a life jacket after entering the water. As Karla Zeutenhorst said, “wearing a life jacket can prevent a fun day on the water from becoming a tragedy. If you’re not going to wear a life jacket for yourself, please wear one for your loved ones!”

2. When swimming, stay within the buoys as they are set to show the safe area where there are no drop-offs.

3. Always swim with a buddy and help each other

.4. Kids should only be an arm’s length away from you. It takes an average of 20 seconds for a child to drown.

5. Have a designated person that is a strong swimmer who will stay sober to ensure everyone’s safety.

6. Limit alcohol. Nebraska’s law concerning watercraft and alcohol is the same as driving and alcohol.

7. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons and boating classes. Take boating classes yourself. Boating courses can provide valuable tips that can save your life. Many insurance companies also offer a discount to boating safety course graduates.

8. Learn CPR.

9. Don’t depend on floating or air-filled toys. There is no substitute for a life jacket. Inflatable toys are not built to keep you afloat in a dangerous situation.

10. Remember that drowning is a silent killer.

11. Inspect Your Equipment. By checking before every trip, you are certain that you have everything and it’s all in working order.

12. Prepare for Sudden Weather Changes.