Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Case For Life Jackets

In 2009 TK Watersports performed a number of rescues, I am proud to say with no fatalities because we insist on people warring life vests. When the boat is moving and anyone jumps in the water they are required to ware a vest. Anyone 14 and younger is required to have a life vest on at all times.

Most of the parents that we work with on family reunion water sports charters, lessons, instruction are relieved when we share with them our policies on warring life vests. It makes it so they don't have to constantly fight there kids; it’s the captain’s rule.

No matter how you look at it, almost any boating accident imaginable has a predictable outcome – if you are in the water fighting for your life. Unless you are wearing a life jacket, your survival chances are marginal. Why take the chance make sure you outing is a save one.

The best case scenario would be falling overboard without sustaining an injury, and being quickly recovered by a person remaining in the boat, or by a nearby boater. In almost every other scenario I can think, surviving a boating accident that resulted in being ejected from the boat without a life jacket would depend upon a quick rescue.

I hate to be a predictor of doom and gloom, but in my experience as a professional water sports outfitter quick rescues don’t always happen. They happen but not often enough – as proven by the latest boating safety statistics:

• In 2006 there were 4,967 boating accidents
• 3,474 of the boaters required medical attention beyond first aid

• 710 recreational boaters died

• 476 of the 710 boaters drowned

• 29 children under the age of 12 died

If those statistics don’t convince you to wear a life jacket, then consider these reasons to wear a life jacket while boating:

Capsizing and falls overboard are the most reported types of fatal accidents, comprising 59 percent of all boating fatalities.Nine of ten drowning victims may have survived a capsizing or fall overboard if they had been wearing a life jacket. By wearing a life jacket while boating, you increase the chances of surviving by leaps and bounds. Think of it another way: without a lifejacket, how long can you tread water while waiting for rescue? What if you were injured?

You cannot prevent an accident by your boating skill or experience alone. Boaters with more than 100 hours boating experience, who are 36 years or older and don’t have formal boating safety education are responsible for most of the boating accidents and fatalities. Even if you have confidence in your boating skills, consider the many boaters who are less experienced and educated who share the waterways with you.

Comfort is no longer an issue. The major reason boaters forgo wearing life jackets is they value comfort over safety. Thankfully, boating supply manufacturers have responded by producing lightweight life jackets that can be worn without discomfort for an entire day of boating.

As I said, no matter how you slice it – there really is no reason not to wear a life jacket, and require all your passengers to wear one as well.

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