Safe Boating for the Next Generation
I want to do my job in promoting safe boating to the next generation. It’s all of our responsibility to create a culture where wearing overall boating safety is cool. Really, though? My main motivation is saving the person I’m boating with from having to call my family and tell them I’m not coming home. Nothing makes my heart heavier than when I hear of someone whose life could have been saved by wearing a life jacket.
This year, National Safe Boating Week is May 19-25. Sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council, this week is intended to educate the public on the importance of safe boating. One of the easiest things you can do to practice safe boating is wear a life jacket.
Notice I didn’t say “Keep a life jacket onboard.” In an emergency situation, it will only save your life if you have it on.
Life jackets have come so far over the years. They aren’t the bulky annoying things they used to be. A major overhaul in the industry have taken place and these days you can find personal flotation devices (PFD) with options like extra large armholes, shaped fit, flexible panels, pockets, inflatables and more comfortable materials, making life jackets easier to wear than ever before. They come in so many different shapes and sizes, it would be impossible to list them all here. The point is that you can certainly find something that works for you.
Facts About Safe Boating
• Nine out of ten drownings occur in inland waters, most within a few feet of safety and involving boats under 20-feet long.
• Most drowning victims had a life jacket available and chose not to wear it.
• It only takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child to drown.
• 70% of all boating fatality accidents result from drowning.
• Almost 85% of those who drown were not wearing a life jacket.
• Federal regulations require all children 13 years old and younger to wear a life jacket unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
• State laws vary in terms of age; be sure to check with your state’s boating safety office.
Just like everything else, PFD’s require some care in order to stay operational. Luckily, it’s not a hard job if you follow these basic tips.
How To Use Your Life Jacket the Right Way
1. Don’t alter your life jacket. If yours doesn’t fit, it’s time to get a new one. An altered life jacket is no longer U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
2. Don’t put heavy objects on your life jacket or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender because it will lose buoyancy when crushed.
3. Let your life jacket thoroughly drip dry before putting it away and stow it in a well-ventilated place.
4. Don’t leave your life jacket on board for long periods when the boat is not in use.
5. Never dry your life jacket on a direct heat source like a radiator or heater.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, I hope to see you all out on the water rocking a cool PFD. Nothing would be better.
Article written by Katie Burke