One simple act can lead to a safe summer on the water

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 considerations

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.
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Wear it: Your excuses don’t hold water

By Brenda Gibson, public relations manager

How many different ways can we say it? Wearing a life jacket can save your life. We know, we know. You have all kinds of reasons why you don’t want to wear it. Here are five excuses we’ve heard for not wearing a life jacket and why they don’t hold water.

I have life jackets on board.

That’s like saying, “I have seatbelts in my car.” They don’t do any good unless you wear them. Have you ever tried to put on a seatbelt during an accident? The same goes for trying to put on a life jacket. There’s just not enough time.

I’m a strong swimmer.

That’s great, but are you a smart swimmer? Because a smart swimmer would know that if you fall into the water, your clothes can feel a lot heavier and exhaust even a strong swimmer.

It’s too hot, and life jackets don’t look cool.
Nice try, but the days of the old-fashioned, bulky orange life jacket are long gone. There are many choices of life jackets including trendy colors and patterns and those that can resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. They not only look cooler, they are cooler.

The life jacket gets in the way.

Again, you have plenty of choices to find the one life jacket that will work for you no matter the activity.

Nothing is going to happen to me.

Face it, accidents happen. Boating can be fun, safe and enjoyable with the smallest of efforts. Are you really willing to take the chance of losing your life, and causing pain and suffering for your family and friends just because you wouldn’t “Wear It!” Come on, you’re better than that.

Find the right life jacket for you. And WEAR IT! Then download any or all of the river recreation maps for more information on paddling safety.

Safe Boating Week is May 18-24 2019.

Tweet us a photo of you wearing your life jacket @mcdwater