In the span of about three weeks, two young people have perished in area lakes and reservoirs, a woman drowned in a river and a man was seriously injured in a boating accident.Three of the four tragic mishaps highlight just how dangerous seemingly benign activities like boating can be and how lightly many people regard our local waterways. Flocks of people from Reno, Sacramento and Truckee head to local lakes, reservoirs and rivers during the summer, more so when temperatures soar like they have recently. But how many of those people stop and ponder the risks – and how to minimize them – before they load up their boats with food, soft drinks, beer and, most importantly, friends and family?Are people reminded that even though the air temperature is sultry, the water temperature is chilly? Unlike the lowlands, our waterways are feed by nearby mountains and their deep winter snow, which even in the dog days of summer is still melting.What seems like a short swim to cool down can turn into tragedy when the reality of cold water hits.Are people – 21 and older of course – going to be drinking? If so, they better not be operating a boat or even thinking about swimming.Common sense rules on the water. Unfortunately, common sense can dry up after a few hours of sun and fun. That leads us to the easiest way to stay alive on and in the water – life jackets.Face it, the majority of us don’t like to wear life jackets – also called personal flotation devices – when we’re on a boat because they can be bulky, hot and, for many people, just uncool. Sometimes there may not even be enough of them on board.All boats 16 feet or longer in length, including canoes and kayaks, must carry one wearable life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on board. In addition, boats must have one throwable device in each boat, according to California Department of Boating and Waterways.Sadly, the two teenage boys who died in Donner Lake and Boca Reservoir were not wearing personal flotation devices.In fact, 85 percent of the boaters who drown as a result of boating accidents would have survived if they had simply been wearing life jackets, most of them already available on board. The message is clear: Don’t become a sad statistic.
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