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Remember life jackets when out on the water

As temperatures climb again, heading to rivers and lakes to cool off sounds like a great idea.

The benefits of wearing a life jacket are obvious. When properly fitted and worn, life jackets can save lives. In fact, hundreds of lives a year could be saved in the United States if boaters, rafters and their passengers took proper precautions and wore properly fitted life jackets.

Nearly 85 percent of boating/rafting-related fatalities in the United States involve victims who were not wearing a life jacket, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

California boating law now requires that:

* All children under age 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times.
* Those on jet skis and personal watercraft and anyone towed behind a vessel must wear a life jacket.
* For all rafts, kayaks and canoes, as well as boats less than 16 feet long, a life jacket for each person must be worn on board and easily accessible.
* Boats more than 16 feet long must have a life jacket for each passenger as well as a rescue flotation device made for throwing, such as a ring cushion.

It is especially important to be cautious when supervising children in, on or near water. More than 1-in-5 fatal drowning victims are children under the age of 15. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another four children need emergency-room care for nonfatal submersion incidents.

To keep children safe follow these water safety tips:

* Always wear a life jacket.
* Make sure the life jacket is the correct size and does not ride up when the child’s arms are raised overhead.
* Take swimming lessons taught by a certified instructor.
* Learn CPR in case of emergencies

California’s lakes, rivers and the ocean are a great source of recreation and exercise, but they also present safety risks. By obeying life-jacket laws and being extra careful when children are near water, you can avoid accidents.

Special to The Enterprise

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