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Letter to the Editor

National Safe Boating Week underway


web posted May 19, 2008
Dear Editor,
May 17th is the beginning of National Safe Boating Week. We are fortunate in our area to live within a short drive to Lakes Thurmond, Murray, and Greenwood each of which offer excellent places for fishing, skiing or just sitting back and enjoying a nice cruise of the lake. 

“It’s too hot”, “I can’t find a life jacket that fits right”,” I can’t cast well in a life jacket”, and” I can swim well”. Sound familiar? They are among the many excuses people use in explaining why they chose not to wear a life jacket while boating.

Just as you wear a seat belt in a car or a helmet when riding a motorcycle, wearing a life jacket is essential. They are lighter, less obtrusive, and more attractive than ever before. If you haven’t looked at them lately check out your local sporting goods or boating supply store. The new life jackets are much more than those old bulky orange vests, they allow for more flexibility and mobility that you need whether you are boating, fishing, paddling or hunting.  There are jackets that can be manually inflated or inflate automatically when you hit the water. There are jackets that you wear like a “horse collar’ or ones with lots of pockets. The point is, there is life jacket available for your sport, or comfort level.

“I can swim well”, or “I can get to my life jacket quickly” Sound familiar? Boating accidents happen at an alarming speed and can happen anytime you are on the water. Many boaters stow their jackets on board, after all, law says you have to have one for each person on board, “I am not required to wear it, I have it in case I get checked by the state game warden.” Reality is there just isn’t time to grab a life-jacket and put it on properly before you are in the water. If you are faced with a strong current or rough weather conditions, you will not only have trouble making sure you in your life jacket properly and securely, but you will be unable to help your friends, family or children that may be onboard. Wearing your life jacket allows you to be safe and the ability to assist others that may be in danger. On average 700 persons die each year in boating related accidents, nearly 80 % were caused by drowning.

This year during National Safe Boating Week and throughout the boating season remember to practice safe and responsible boating. Always wear your life jacket, be an example to others on how to boat safely. Be alert and aware while on the water. These simple steps can save your life as well as the lives of the people boating with you.

 Boating can be a safe and fun sport when the operator is fully aware of how to operate the boat and practices safe boating. One of the best things a boater can do is to take a boating safety course. 70% of boating accidents are caused by operator factors-recklessness, carelessness, inexperience, excessive speed, and failure to watch for hazards. Boating safety courses are available, inexpensive and quick, a great way to learn safety and rules of the road.  Do you know the local aids to navigation? What to do or who to contact in the event of a boating accident? How do you signal for help? How can you tell if another boater is in trouble? What should I carry on my boat?  How can I safely trailer my boat? If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, then you should take a boating safety course.

 When you are out on the lake this year, remember to look out for other boaters –power, sail, canoe or PWC.  Please remember to “Wear It!” and don’t forget to make sure everyone aboard your boat is wearing a life jacket too!  Make this summer a safe and enjoyable boating season.

For more information and to schedule a free vessel safety check click on: http://nws.cgaux.org/index.html.


Shannon Tuten
Public Affairs Officer
US Coast Guard Auxiliary
Lake Murray Flotilla



 




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