Boating And Water Safety

Why Is Safety Such A Hard Sell?

Series: Boating Safety | Story 17

November 1, 2022

Capt. Ed Huntsman

US Coast Guard Licensed Captain

Member, US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee

Why is safety such a hard sell? Why should water and boating safety officials across the country even have to try? Its always interesting that those most interested in the topic are rarely, if ever, those that would most benefit from learning about it and adopting the culture.

As I sit here writing this article, I just finished reading a Coast Guard notification regarding a 65-year-old fisherman who went missing in Texas a few nights back. Numerous county, state and federal resources have deployed to search for him. And still, no results several days later. I've no doubt the search will stand down later today and another unnecessary death recorded. One more boating death that, in all likelihood, could have been easily avoided had the boater simply been wearing a life jacket. Or, even better, had a friend or relative out fishing with him.

Now that we're in the fall and winter months are approaching, it's more important than ever that we adopt a safety ethos into our boating and water-related activities. From swimming with a buddy, to adult supervision around the pool for kids, to pool fencing and knowing CPR, someone you love and care about may benefit from a change in attitude. Simple things like wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, leaving a float plan with someone that cares about you, knowing how to swim, boating sober and having a boat inspection are a few of the most basic actions we can take to ensure we have a good time.

People often think that they don't need to wear a life jacket because they're good swimmers. And yet, over 60 per cent of those who perish in boating-related drownings are reportedly "good" swimmers. And as the ambient air and water temperatures lower, our risk of sudden cold-water immersion and its effects exponentially increase. Do a bit of research on your own on the 1-10-1 rule with respect to cold-water immersion. If you aren't already aware, you'll likely be surprised at what you find.

There's much that boaters, anglers and swimmers can do to make sure they have a fun outing and make it back home to those they love and that love them. No one ever gets up in the morning and invites friends and relatives to go out to the lake or other body of water with the intention of being on the evening news. And yet, a week rarely goes by that we don't hear about a tragedy where someone has perished due to drowning or an accident of some sort that could have easily been avoided had they only taken a class, checked out the condition of their boat, swam with a friend or, worn a life jacket.

As it continues to get colder, don't be a statistic. Come home safely after a great day on the water. Wear a life jacket.


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