According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in American children aged 1 to 14, just after traffic accidents.
In 2019, US Coast Guard statistics show more than 236,000 people are drowning around the world. Every year, 3,600 to 4,000 children and adults drown in the United States.
“It’s a preventable injury” said Dr Linda Quan, of the Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Life jackets make sense. They save lives.
Federal law requires that boats carry life jackets for all passengers, but it does not require that they be worn. A patchwork of state laws govern the use of life jackets.
In New York State, the law is simple, anyone under the age of 12 must wear a USCG approved life jacket. A word of advice: a 60 pound child in an XL adult does not. Make sure that all life jackets are suitable for everyone on board.
Quan’s study found that the average rate of lifejacket use overall was only 31% and only 21% in powerboats.
However, when legally mandated, boaters were two to three times more likely to wear life jackets, according to the study. Lifejacket use was 80% in children 6 to 12 years old, 89% in children 5 and under, and almost 97% in jet skiers
As a longtime angler and NYS licensed fishing guide, safety on the water is of paramount importance to my trade. The personal flotation devices on my boats are not only Coast Guard approved, but what is called a Type 1. These jackets do not need to be used on your pleasure craft, but are the best on the market. market.
Life jackets come in a variety of shapes and sizes and should fit snugly. I recommend that life jackets not only be in the boat, but should be worn. Keeping a PFD on the back of a seat, lying on the floor or stowed away is not enough. They have to be worn to do what they are designed to do.
Accidents happen when we don’t use them, which is why they are called accidents. I have been in and observed situations where it was not enough time to put on a PFD. Over the years and 10,000 hours of water logged I have encountered and witnessed more accidents than I dare to share and at one point, if they did not have a life jacket at the time of accident or incident, there was not enough time to put one on. It was just too late.
PFDs won’t save a life when put away. Wear the dang life jacket.
For boaters, being on the lake the first two times is like driving on Fairmount Avenue during Christmas time. Remember the learning curve we all go through after the first snowfall. For people who don’t spend a lot of time at the barre, this can be a steep learning curve.
Good boat maintenance is important. You don’t all want to be the one towed into a dock. This probably means more use and wear and tear on the boat. Some boats may have been recently launched and are just not up to scratch yet. Either way, now is the time to tackle the things that still need to be fixed, with special attention to electricity: battery, charging system, navigation lights; and the fuel system: fuel lines and fresh gas. With boat trailers, check tire wear, bearings for grease, and make sure all lights are working.
The Christmas tree light effect that we see every July 4th is exciting, but can be dangerous. Every year, after the fireworks have ended and the boaters return home, traffic on lakes such as Chautauqua is very busy. After spending many July 4s watching fireworks over Lake Chautauqua, I know firsthand that boat traffic is at an all time high.
Most people keep their lights on, like you are supposed to do at anchor or while floating during the evening hours. Often the batteries in your boat are discharged.
Do not drain the battery by playing music all day long and be careful to avoid tangles of the anchor lines. On the way back, set up extra lookouts, don’t take any shortcuts, and be patient at the launch pad. Motorboats must watch their wake. As night falls, the chances of accidents increase, so it’s a good idea to have everyone in life jackets.
Many boat guests are likely to be children, but some ships will not have the correct size lifejacket on board. It is not only a law, but all young people should wear a properly fitted life jacket. Plus, small boats are prone to overloading, leaving just a few precious inches of freeboard to prevent wakes and waves from getting on board.
Just make sure that alcohol doesn’t become a safety concern when you’re out on the water. Remember that the same rules of the road apply on water and on land. Waiting to enjoy this adult drink until you get home safely ensures that everyone has a safe time.