By Sarah Hippensteel Hall, manager of watershed partnerships
The Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad rivers offer many paddling, rowing, and power boating opportunities. Our water trail maps take you to public access sites and give you safety information. And one simple act can help you have a safe summer on the water.
Wear your life jacket!
It’s that simple. The facts are clear:
- Four out of every five boating deaths in 2018 were due to drowning.
- 84 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
Having a life jacket in your boat isn’t enough. You have to wear it. Accidents can happen much too fast to reach for a stowed life jacket, so WEAR IT!
As you prepare for the boating/paddling season remember to:
- Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
- Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities. Read the label!
- Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems.
- Check that your life jacket is in good condition, with no tears or holes.
- Life jackets meant for adult-sized people do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets based on their weight. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
Modern life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange version. There are so many life jackets to choose from, there’s simply no excuse not to wear one. There are even life jackets that use inflatable technologies so you can remain cool and comfortable. Some will inflate automatically when immersed in water.
A good life jacket is critical to your safety. There are other steps to take as well. Before heading out for a day on the water, be sure to review the safety tips on the back of our maps.
COVID-19 is part of our lives for now and needs to be considered when boating, too. Maintain good hand washing and don’t go boating if someone in your household is sick. Be sure to review these tips for navigating social distancing while boating and tips for cleaning and storing your life jacket.
National Safe Boating Week is May 16-22.