Boating safety cannot be overlooked | SierraSun.com
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Boating safety cannot be overlooked

The warm temperatures early in the week caused many to focus on the upcoming boating season. With the traditional opening day of boating season around the Memorial Day weekend, National Safe Boating week was from May 17 through Friday.

With so many boaters taking to the water for what appears to be a warm summer season, the Safe Boating Council wants to remind everyone to wear their life jackets (Personal floatation device or PFP).

Boating and water safety in general are important. Most deaths while boating are attributed to drowning. Drowning is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in this country, claiming 4,000 lives annually, according to the American Institute of Preventative Medicine. It is sad because many of those deaths could have been avoided by wearing a simple PFD.



We have already seen many heart-wrenching stories this season of people drowning during either a boating accident or while cooling off in their favorite swimming holes.

If you are going to be around water during the summer, be sure to take the precautions to keep you and your family water safe. Make sure that you have life jackets on your vessel and, more importantly, make sure that they are used each and every time you take your boat out. Their lives depend on you.



Children are particularly vulnerable. All children 12 and under in California are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved PFD while underway in a vessel of 26 feet or less.

The quantity and type of PFD depends on the length of your vessel and the number of people on board and/or being towed. Each PFD must be in good condition, the proper size for the intended wearer, and very importantly, must be readily accessible!

Readily accessible means you must be able to put the PFD on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.). You should have one for each member in your party.

For more specifics on the types of PFDs, go to http://www.dbw.ca.gov/Pubs/Pfd/PFDs.pdf. The value of using a PFD cannot be stressed enough.

Many fly fishermen use a small watercraft such as a float-tube or pontoon boat these days while fishing lakes. The pontoon boats are also used on some of our area rivers.

I know that I did not wear a PFD for a long time because I felt that I was a decent enough swimmer while using my float tube or pontoon boat. I have since realized that no matter how a good a swimmer you are, in an emergency, a PFD could save your life.

As a result, I make sure I have a PFD while fishing lakes or rivers with my watercraft. Accidents can happen to anyone, and not being prepared means that someone may not be coming home. That would be tragic.

So, have a safe and happy boating season on the water, but do not forget to protect yourselves. Wear a PFD.


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