It may be too early in the season to swim, but it's never too early to teach kids about water safety.
This weekend is the first Kids KNOW Water Safety Festival at Sandy Point State Park overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m., activities start at 10 a.m., and the one-day event ends at 4 p.m.
The festival is timed to coincide with Water Safety Week, organizers said, before beach-goers and sailors hit the water this summer.
There will be a powerboat parade, lessons on lifesaving techniques and a free Type 3 lifejacket will be given to every child who attends.
Presentations, games and a water safety pledge are designed to be educational fun with a serious point: vigilance against death by drowning in the bathtub, hot tub or pool is as important as safety in a lake or ocean. The acronym in the group's name, KNOW, stands for "Knowledge Necessary on Water."
Program founder and organizer Brian Colella of Shady Side said he has visited several area elementary schools to tell pupils that drowning is one of the most common causes of death for children 14 and younger.
Colella, 51, a reserve officer with the Maryland Natural Resources Police, teaches children the steps they can take to safeguard themselves while swimming or boating. The sound of a loud whistle, for example, can carry a long way, he said.
"They call drowning the silent death for children because some don't know to splash and shout," Colella said. "They can just sink."
No need to wear swimsuits this weekend, Colella said, but athletic attire is recommended. To take free boat rides by the Chesapeake Bay Powerboat Association, every child 14 and younger must wear a lifejacket, something Colella believes should be required by law.
To register, call 866-569-5669. Children 17 and younger and teachers will be admitted free. Adult admission is $5. For more information, go to www.kids know.org.