Life jackets save lives. It’s a coast guard regulation that you have to have a personal flotation device (life jacket) on any boat, and you have to have enough for at least one per person. It’s nice that it’s on the boat, but just think how life would be different if you were required to wear your life jacket.
Here are a few examples of when wearing a life jacket could have made a difference between life and death.
The Cost of Not Wearing Life Jackets
- Two teenagers set out in a boat from a Florida coastal town to go to Bermuda. Recently, the last footage was released of the boys leaving the inlet right before they hit the ocean. If you look closely at the boys, you’ll notice they don’t even have T-shirts on, much less life jackets. It was going to be a fun day in the sun. We don’t know what happened to them, but it’s possible that wearing their life jackets could have made a difference and led to a rescue.
- Another tragedy recently happened at Sylvan Beach outside of Syracuse, NY. A fisherman dropped his tackle box in the water from the canal wall of an inlet. He jumped into the water to save the box and passed it to his mother. The cold water temperatures took effect, he went underwater and drowned. What if he had been wearing a life jacket? He still would have been very cold, but his head would have been above water and he could have been rescued.
- About 15 years ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table listening to the local news of two sisters who drowned in a white water rafting accident. Neither one was wearing a life jacket. They were both accomplished swimmers but were no match for the swift waters. I looked at my teenage boys and told them “That’s why we always wear life jackets. I don’t want them in the hull, I want them on your body. If there’s an accident, you won’t have time to get to them and put them on.”
That’s the whole point. An accident is an unforeseen event. In an emergency, could you get to the life jacket in your boat, put it on and secure it before you’re in the water?
The Benefits of Wearing Life Jackets
Alternatively, if you’re wearing a life jacket, you’ll be bobbing in the water instead of spending energy trying to stay afloat, allowing much more time for rescue. Life jackets save lives.
Just in April of this year, there were three people rescued from their capsized boat by a Disney cruise ship. In this image (right), you can barely make out the dark spot that is the overturned boat. They were found in open water 40 miles from the nearest coast. Regardless of who they were, they were wearing their life jackets…and they were rescued.
I’m sure Smith Mountain Lake, as well as other rivers and streams in Virginia, have claimed lives because people weren’t wearing life jackets. I’d like to see a safer world.
Let’s spread this message, “If you’re near water, wear a life jacket.”