This summer keep your family safe when you’re out on the water. In Alaska, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children and third for teens. According to Kids Don’t Float (KDF), the fatality rates here are 4-5 times higher than the national average.
To help prevent such tragedies, KDF is on a mission to educate families on water safety and provide personal floatation device loaner boards for use at recreational areas across the state.
KDF was founded in Homer, Alaska in 1996. The program was broken into two parts. The first was the installation of Personal Floatation Device Loaner Boards. Visitors to any open body of water across the state can borrow a PFD from a loaner board. The second part of the program is the Peer Education Program which teaches anyone involved with kids about cold-water exposure, PFD use, and drowning prevention.
Since KDF’s founding, the program has expanded from just fifteen loaner boards in the Kachemak Bay area to 663 loaner boards in 223 communities statewide. Drowning rates in Alaska have dropped, and it’s been reported that since starting the program, at least 24 children have been saved due to having access to a Kids Don’t Float loaner PFD.
Educate yourself and your family on water and boat safety before heading out:
- Wear the PFD: It’s federal law. All children under the age of 13 are required to have a proper fitting life jacket on an open boat, on the deck of a boat, or when water skiing.
- Is your PFD properly fitting: It’s not just important to wear any PFD. Your PFD should properly fit your body and pass the National Coast Guard’s code.
- Cold Water Kills: The human body has a greatly decreased chance of survival when exposed to cold water. It’s important to get out as soon as possible to limit exposure.
- Remain vigilant with small children: Of childhood drowning incidents, ages 0-9, between 2013-2015, 91% were left unattended prior to drowning.
This should be a fun and safe summer for everyone. Keep your family informed so that this summer doesn’t become their last.
For more information about KDF or boat safety please visit www.kidsdontfloat.alaska.gov.
Jasmyn Bednar is a participant in our internship program created for high school students interested in writing and journalism.