So far this year we have lost four fishermen in South Carolina, and several more have perished who were known to cast a rod. With our mild climate, opportunities abound for people, especially fisherman, to be on the water throughout the year. Knowing that we can make a big impact if we can educate fishermen and other boaters about the importance of wearing life jackets, I was excited to attend the Summerville Salt Water Anglers May Safety Event at the Summerville Country Club.
While members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary were on hand to answer general boating questions and to present safety information about EPRIBs, flares, and other boating safety gear, the highlight of the evening was the life jacket demonstration in the pool. After learning about the different types of lifejackets, the kids, and one brave adult, donned their lifejackets and jumped in the pool.
I am confident that we made a difference in one life. One of the younger members, Megan Lehr, offered to try to put on various types of lifejackets after she was already in the water. She learned that while the Type II near-shore buoyant vests are cheap and meet regulations, they are nearly impossible to put on once you are in the water.
According to Megan, “The lifejackets were very hard to put on once I got in the water. The orange lifejacket was hard to get on because I couldn’t tell which side was the front and which side was the back! If it would have been the ocean and not the pool, I would have drown or been left out trying to swim against the current and waves.”
By far the most popular of the lifejackets tried last night were the newer Type III inflatables. Regardless of whether the jackets automatically inflated or were manually activated, the result was several buoyant people, heads out of the water, floating effortlessly in the pool.
Have you ever tried on your lifejacket in the water to see how well you will float? If you don’t regularly wear a lifejacket while on your boat, have you ever hopped in the pool and tried to put it on in the water? When you do it, remember it’s a planned situation—imagine how it would be if your boat had overturned and you are suddenly in cold water.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is promoting lifejacket use with their “Wear it!” campaign this year, and we were thrilled to be asked by the Summerville Salt Water Anglers to attend their monthly meeting. See you on the water!