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Water safety tips for you and your child

From staff and wire reports -   July 12, 2007

Louisiana has always been known for its numerous waterways and the enjoyment that can be derived from time spent on the water with family and friends. Recreational water sports are fun for boaters of all ages, especially kids.

One piece of equipment that can make a day on the water a happy memory rather than a tragedy is a personal flotation device.

Here are few a tips adults need to know about personal flotation devices for children:

•It is required by Louisiana law that any child 12 years old or younger wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device that is properly sized and fitted and is in good serviceable condition while a vessel is underway. It is highly recommended that children wear PFDs at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.

• For a PFD to work properly, it must fit snugly on a child. A good way to check for a good fit is to pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD.

A properly fitted PFD will not allow the childs chin and ears to slip through the PFD. Remember to fasten all straps, zippers and ties.

•PFDs with a safety strap that fastens between the legs can prevent the device from slipping over the childs head and are highly recommended.

•Test a childs PFD in the water immediately after purchase. Teach the child to relax in the water while wearing the PFD. A struggling child makes it hard to float safely in a PFD.

The struggling child may not stay face up even with a properly fitted PFD.

•Remember that no one can watch a child every second. A child can drown in minutes with adults around. Wearing a PFD can prevent such a tragedy and make water sports memorable and enjoyable.

For more information on personal flotation devices or recreational boating, visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Web site: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/regulations/requiredequipment

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