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Wet and (Not So) “Wild”: Safety Tips For Your Fun-In-The-Sun Adventures:

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Most experts agree that one of the best ways to stay fit and firm is by getting up and moving around, and most concur that getting some fresh air and sun (outdoors) doing something you love, is probably one of the best and most ideal forms of exercise. Not to mention that getting some (natural) vitamin D is also good for your health.

On the other hand, being overly exposed to the elements can turn having fun in the sun into a “dangerous” outing, especially if you’re out by the ocean, on the bay or out on the sound. Here are just a few timely tips to keep you and your family safe and sound.

1. Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Remember to boat responsible and to brush up on your basic boating and safety tips:

· Brush up on your swimming techniques or take a class if you don’t already know how. The American Red Cross offers (swimming) classes for everyone, or you can take private lessons if you’re more comfortable with that.

· Enroll in a boating safety course. Again, check with the American Red Cross or the U.S. Coast Guard. They generally focus on what to do in case of emergency, navigation basics and the effects of wind, water conditions and weather.

· Invest in and wear a life jacket and make sure to stock the vessel with enough Coast Guard-approved life jackets for all on board. Remember more than 80 percent of those who drown in boating accidents were without a life jacket.

· Guard your “guests” against carbon monoxide often emitted by boat engines. Keep passengers away from the engine (since the gas is colorless and odorless), both in the boat and on the water. If your boat has a gas engine to generate electricity, make sure there’s proper ventilation and install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping and living quarters.

· Tell others what your plans are. Let them know you’re taking the boat out, where you are going and what time (approximately you expect to leave and return)

· Steer clear of alcohol (or drugs, including medications that may impair your judgment…and certainly don’t mix the two).

· Keep a radio on and keep and eye and ear out on the weather. Don’t hesitate to cut your excursion short if you get wind of ominous and threatening weather.

2. Making Waves: Water Skiing is great way to whet your appetite for summer fun, but, again, you should proceed with caution.

· Make sure you are sporting a life jacket. And, remember, bright colors are most visible.

· Look for low-traffic areas, and steer clear of congested areas traveled by boats or reserved for fishing.

· Make sure you can be seen and heard. Don’t ski after dark

· Take a friend. The driver needs to focus on what’s ahead, an extra person can help keep and eye on YOU.

· Communicate with the driver. Learn about hand signals and what they mean, and make sure you are comfortable and confident with the sign language.

· Beware of moving propellers and don’t approach a boat with a running motor.

· Wear a wet suit in colder water to prevent hypothermia, a condition in which your body temperature drops too low.

3. A Personal Adventure: Taking your own (or someone else’s) personal watercraft out on the water means following the same safety protocol and rules.

· Make sure you KNOW what you’re doing. If you’re not sure, make sure you take lessons beforehand and go over the owner’s manual from time to time (even if it’s just to refresh your memory)

· Don’t forget or forego the life jacket. You’ll probably also want to wear protective goggles to shield your eyes as well.

· Be courteous out on the water and adhere to the traffic pattern. Obey no-wake zones and be careful around swimmers and keep an eye on other boats.

· Don’t go alone. Stick with a group in case of emergency

· Don’t drink or do drugs while using a personal watercraft.

4. Thrill Seekers: Getting more adventurous (windsurfing, parasailing etc) means getting more careful about following certain rules.

· Select activities that you are sure you can handle.

· Rent (or buy) from a reputable dealer.

· Examine the equipment for signs of wear and tear.

· Take lessons from an experienced instructor.

· Adhere to local rules and regulations.

Remember, accidents can happen in a split second, and some can be quite serious, dangerous and life threatening, so, it’s always best to “play” by the rules and play it safe.

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