Safety Afloat has been developed to promote boating and boating safety and to set standards for safe activity afloat. Before a group may engage in an excursion, expedition, or trip on the water (canoe, raft, sailboat, motorboat, rowboat, tube, or other craft), adult leaders for such activity must complete Safety Afloat training.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved equipment (Types I, II, or III) is acceptable for use in Learning for Life aquatics. Ski belts are not acceptable. Youth and unit leaders should learn which type is appropriate for each specific circumstance and how to wear it and check for proper fit.
Swimming activity in turbid water should be limited to surface swimming. Turbid water exists when a 12-inch white disk at the depth of 3 feet is not visible from above the surface of the water. Underwater swimming, headfirst entry (except for racing dives), and board diving are not permitted in turbid water. Supervised instruction in lifesaving skills and surface diving may be conducted in confined areas of turbid water not exceeding 8 feet in depth and free of bottom hazards.
Snorkeling and scuba skills are taught and practiced only in clear water. Clear water exists when a 12-inch white disk at a depth of 8 feet is visible from above the surface of the water.
Lifeguard training has been established to provide posts with qualified individuals within their own membership to give knowledgeable supervision for activities on or in the water. The first standard in the Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat guidelines establishes a need for qualified supervision. An adult currently trained as a lifeguard or an adult leader assisted by a youth holding lifeguard training meets this requirement. To enroll in the Learning for Life lifeguard course, you must be at least 14 years of age or have completed the eighth grade. Contact your local Learning for Life office for the latest requirements for lifeguard training. Every leader is encouraged to become trained or to ensure that at least one youth or adult member has this training.
Swimming areas should be large enough to avoid crowding (minimum of 40 square feet per swimmer). Note the following in accordance with Safe Swim Defense rules. Mark off the area for three groups: not more than 3.5 feet deep for nonswimmers; from shallow water to just over the head for beginners; deep water not more than 12 feet for swimmers.
Diving and Elevated Entry
"Diving" refers to any water entry where the feet are not making first contact with the water. "Elevated entry" refers to any water entry from a height more than 18 inches above the water. According to Safety Afloat standards, no diving or swimming activity of any kind is done in water with a depth greater than 12 feet.
All water entry must be feetfirst where the water has less than 7 feet of unobstructed depth. A leaping entry is recommended where water is at or above head level; a step-down or jump-down entry from a sitting position is recommended for shallower water.
No diving is permitted in water with less than 7 feet of unobstructed depth. Diving is permitted in clear water over 7 feet deep from a dock, pier, or platform that is no more than 18 inches above the water surface. For elevated entry from 18 inches high but less than 40 inches above the water surface, clear and unobstructed water depth must be at least 9 feet. The water must be clear enough to enable supervisory and guard personnel to see the diver at the deepest part of the plunge.
Board diving is permitted only from boards, mounted on a fixed (not floating) platform or deck, no more than 40 inches (approximately 1 meter) above the water surface. Clear water depth below the board should be 9 feet to 12 feet. A guard or supervisor should be positioned where the diver can be seen at all times beneath the surface. There should be no other surface or underwater activity or obstruction for at least 15 feet on either side of the board and 25 feet in front of the board. Diving should always be done straight ahead from the board, never to the sides.
Any elevated entry from a height greater than 40 inches must be feetfirst and only from a fixed platform or solid footing no more than 60 inches above the water surface. Clear-water depth should be 10 feet to 12 feet. Other protective measures and distances are the same as for board diving.
Any person possessing, displaying, or using scuba equipment in connection with any Learning for Life activity must be currently certified by the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). These two agencies are recognized by Learning for Life for scuba training and instruction. Alternatively, if PADI or NAUI training and instruction is not available, certification may be accepted from other agencies that comply with Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) guidelines, provided that such acceptance has been expressly approved by the local office in consultation with the National Health and Safety Service.
Scuba programs may be a part of Learning for Life or Exploring activities for participants who are 14 years of age or older. Persons meeting the age requirement and properly certified may participate in group dives under the supervision of a responsible adult who is currently certified as a dive master, assistant instructor, or any higher rating from NAUI or PADI. Student divers must be under the supervision of a currently certified NAUI or PADI instructor. No exceptions to the age requirement are permitted, and any NAUI or PADI age requirements for those 14 and older shall be followed in all program-related activities. A 14-year-old participant with a junior diver certification may dive only when accompanied by a buddy who is a certified open-water diver at least 18 years old.
Due to lack of frequency of diving by most sport divers, it is important that any certified divers be screened and evaluated by a certified diving instructor before participating in program-related a ctivities. The skills to be evaluated include the following:
Policy on Asthma/Reactive Airway Disease as Related to Scuba Activities
The snorkeling requirements have been developed to introduce youth to the special skills, equipment, and safety precautions associated with snorkeling; to encourage the development of aquatics skills that promote fitness and recreation; and to provide a solid foundation of skills and knowledge for those who later will participate in more advanced underwater activity.
Trained aquatics instructors may serve as a counselor. A person recognized and certified as a snorkeling instructor by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), or the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) also qualifies as a snorkeling counselor.
Instruction must be conducted in clear, confined water with a maximum depth of 12 feet. A swimming pool is recommended. All requirements must be completed as stated on the application form. The counselor may not omit, vary, or add requirements. The requirements are presented in the order in which they should be taught. The completed application should be submitted to the local Learning for Life office by the counselor or adult leader.
Safe waterskiing starts with safe equipment; a thorough knowledge of techniques; competent instruction; an efficient, careful towboat operator; and a conscientious observer. A life jacket is a must for all water-skiers. Skis should be in good shape and free from sharp or protruding edges. The boat operator should be driving solely for the benefit, satisfaction, and safety of the skier. The boat and skier should stay away from docks, swimmers, boaters, people who are fishing, and other objects.
The boardsailing program has been developed to introduce youth to basic boardsailing skills, equipment, and safety precautions; to encourage development of skills that promote fitness and safe aquatics recreation; and to lay a skill and knowledge foundation for those who will later participate in more advanced and demanding activities on the water.
Persons recognized and certified as an instructor by Windsurfer International or the U.S. Board Sailing Association may serve as a counselor for the Boardsailing Award with the approval of the local service center. Any person trained and experienced in boardsailing skills and safety may serve as a counselor for this award in a camp program under the direction and supervision of a currently trained aquatics instructor.
Whitewater Safety Code
The American Whitewater Affiliation (AWA) Safety Code:
Each canoe is responsible for the canoe immediately behind it.
Copyright © 2002 by Learning for Life