Spring River Safety for Your Children
Early spring is the time of year us fly fishermen start getting the itch to fish real bad. With less than six weeks left until many Ontario Rivers open for the season there is lots to look forward to. One thing we need to keep in mind is just how dangerous blown or swollen rivers can be. I took a walk with my kids down for a look at the local trout river the other day and she was a raging force of water, mud and debris. The bridge in the park where we were is normally 2 feet above the average summertime water level. The other day it was fully submerged by about 4 feet of water. That’s a difference of 6 feet. The depth to river bed would be well over any full grown persons head, let alone a child’s and falling in would be deadly.
The river was flowing at 22 cms on the day that I was there. To demonstrate for my kids just how fast the water was moving, I took a large branch and tossed it in. It was only a matter of seconds until before it was whisked away in the current. Most Children love to splash in what ever water they can get to, so it is extremely important that they learn how one slip could take them away forever. Every year people drown in swollen rivers, some of them are even experienced waders who know what precautions to take. Children may not know if they are doing something dangerous and need to be taught river safety at a very early age.
Teenagers are among the highest at risk of drowning for a number of reasons. In the 2009 Drowning fact sheet, people age 12-17 years are listed as a high risk group for drowning. Because kids in this age group are more likely to be unsupervised by an adult while fishing, or boating, or swimming we need to ensure that they know how to do these activities safely. Teenagers also have that “invincible” attitude and simply do stupid and unsafe things sometimes.
A few things we can do to teach and protect our children around water are:
- Never ever let young children near any water without an adult paying full attention to them, and being within arms reach.
- Always make sure your children have a PFD or life jacket when they are near any water, it only takes a split second to loose them forever.
- Demonstrate to kids of all ages how powerful flowing water is. Even the strongest swimmer is helpless in an undertow or current.
- Enroll your children in swimming lessons at an early age. Everyone should know how to swim.
- Teach your older children, who would be more likely to be fishing unsupervised, how wade safely and when not to go in the water.
- Teach children the dangers of going on frozen lakes and rivers. Show them when it is safe and when it is not.
- Have knowledge of first aid and water survival skills. Be a strong swimmer so that you can save someone if you ever needed to.
With a little care and caution we can enjoy our water safely, both young and old, for years to come.