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New to South Florida? Soak up these safety tips for your kids

Mom applying sunscreen to son's back.

In this article, you'll find answers to questions like:

1. How to be safe on a boat?
2. What about pool safety?
3. How dangerous is heatstroke?

Welcome to South Florida! If your family is new to the area, you may find these expert tips helpful — and possibly lifesaving — to stay safe in the heat and around water.


Ensure your children wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket suitable for their height and weight, says Kathy Wall, director of Safe Kids Palm Beach County. This community-based program offers safety education and materials to families to help prevent injuries in children up to 19 years old.

"Designate a sober skipper and share your float plan with others in case of emergency,” she says, adding that an adult should supervise at all times and be aware of water conditions. “Have an emergency beacon on board. Watch out for divers and their flags, marine life and distracted boaters.”

Download this “Be Water Smart” booklet, a joint project with the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County.

Back at the beach, swim in designated areas with a lifeguard on duty. Read the signs about daily hazards, such as rip currents, marine life and limited visibility. Learn basic water rescue skills and CPR.


Assign an adult water watcher to closely monitor children in or near the water for a set period, such as 15 minutes, before trading off the responsibility with another adult. No cell phones or eating!

“Learn how to spot a drowning victim,” Wall says. “Watch out for things like silence, bobbing, stiff arms and a straight up-and-down body.” Call 911 immediately if you encounter an emergency and start CPR. Just a matter of seconds count!  

Ensure kids master survival skills early, such as how to resurface if they’re in the water over their heads. They should know how to turn, float, tread water, breathe while swimming and exit the water.


Did you know a car's temperature can reach 119 degrees after 15 minutes when it’s 92 degrees outside? Deadly heatstroke can happen in minutes! Florida children are at high risk.

The acronym ACT can help you remember the dangers of heatstroke in vehicles, Wall says. "A is avoid heatstroke-related injury and death. C means to create reminders, and T is to take action," she says.

Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Keep it locked to prevent kids from getting inside when you’re not looking. Keep a stuffed animal in the empty car seat and move it to the front seat to serve as a reminder that your child is in the back. Place your phone or bag in the back, which prompts you to look in the back seat for it and see your child. Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car!

Remember your sunscreen (for children over 6 months old) and drinking water whenever you go outside. Watch for heat exhaustion signs of excessive sweating, dizziness, nausea and headache. Heatstroke signs are flushed or hot skin, fainting and headache.


• Kathy Wall, director, Safe Kids Palm Beach County

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