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Boating Safety: Life Vests are Called That for a Reason

boater safetyThis week we covered the story of a father and son who were pulled out of Lake Norman in North Carolina just minutes before they almost lost their lives in a boating accident. According to local new sources, the two men were not wearing life jackets when they were fishing and were suddenly knocked into the water when their boat hit an unidentified object. Although the elderly father had the help of a life jacket that had fallen into the water, cold water temperatures had the men succumbing to the water within minutes.

Life jackets are not required by law in North Carolina except for those under the age of thirteen. However, many water safety experts urge all boaters to wear a life jacket at all times in order to protect against unforeseen accidents. Even those who are expert swimmers shouldn’t shrug off life jackets – boating accidents often involved head trauma and brain injuries, and victims may be knocked  unconscious before they end up in the water.

Here are some quick tips for life jacket safety:

  • Make sure your life jacket fits properly – it should be snug but not too tight. It should not ride up onto your shoulders.
  • Make sure your life jacket is buckled up. Some people thing that having an open life jacket is good enough, but life vests that are not secured could come off of you in the event of an accident.
  • Before using your life jacket, check it for tears or other malfunctions.
  • Test your life jacket in a shallow body of water, such as a swimming pool to ensure that it works properly, fits properly, and doesn’t suffer from dangerous design flaws.
  • Make sure you store your life jackets in a cool, dry place after use.
  • If you must take your life vest off while in a boat and on the water, be sure to keep it close by and in an accessible place.
  • Wearing your life jacket at all times as an adult might not be a law, but it does set a good example for your children.