Santa Barbara County’s beautiful beaches enable families to enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, waterskiing and many other forms of water recreation. Summertime usually involves even higher levels of water recreation, and can be a source of great family fun.

Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous, especially for children.

It’s important to teach all children how to be safe in and around the water. The boating and water safety lessons children learn at an early age can protect them throughout their lives.

As a reminder, be sure to have your children learn to swim. They should never swim alone; they should always use the buddy system. They should also know the items that can be used to help save someone in trouble — a rope, oar, branch or life preserver.

They should only swim where there is a lifeguard on duty, and always obey signs that say “danger,” “keep out” or “private property.” When on a boat, they should always wear a life jacket and stay seated.

To fit a personal flotation device properly on a child, it is important not to buy one that is too large, with the expectation that the child will grow into it. If it is too large, it will not work as well now, while the child is small and needs it the most.

Also make sure your children know that if they enter the water by accident, they should always stay with the boat, even if they have to hang on to the side. Safe boating is fun boating.

Simple precautions can keep water activities enjoyable and safe for all.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools.