As the North Sound’s spring weather improves this weekend and boaters of all kinds head to area waterways, the warmer drier weather will coincide with National Safe Boating Week.
National Safe Boating Week kicks off on Friday, May 20th with Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. Take group photos or selfies showing off your life jacket and post them on the EverettPost Facebook site and on Twitter at #WearItWA .
The rest of National Safe Boating Week rolls through May 27th, reminding all boaters to prepare for the boating season and brush up on safety skills. “The best boating experience is safe boating,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council, a nonprofit dedicated to helping create a safe boating experience for all boaters and the lead organization of the Safe Boating Campaign. “Have fun on the water, make memories with your family and friends – all while boating responsibly.”
In Western Washington, the number one means for boating safety is wearing a properly fitting life jacket. These life saving devices are available in young child, youth, early teen and adult sizes, and be sure they are U.S. Coast Guard certified. Area waters are cold, in the 40s in the upper reaches of rivers, and bearly into the 50s for Puget Sound and most area lakes, and do not warm up much through the summer.
Accidentally falling into such cold water creates what is named cold water shock. It is like walking into a cold shower. The human reflex is to gasp, but falling into a cold body of water means that gasp will inhale water. Last year, 13 boaters drowned from cold water shock incidents with over 50 percent from human powered vessels like paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes.
Given the current high price of gas, many are turning to human powered vessels with kayaks and paddleboards flying off the shelves. Some big box managers expect to be sold out of these vessels by Memorial Day Weekend. Many buying these kayaks and paddleboards will be new to the fun experience on the water. Wearing the proper fitting life jacket will keep those unintentionally falling into the cold water afloat and help avoid the cold water shock drowning impact.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics from 2020 showed that 86 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. “Remember, the best life jacket is the one you will wear,” said Pentz. “Whether you’re going fishing or just enjoying a ride on the boat, boat like a pro and make sure you’re prepared for the adventure.”
Life jackets are found at most big box stores and marine outlets. Be sure to wear the proper jacket for the water activity – there are different ones for water skiing vs paddleboarding for instance. In addition, Washington State Parks has about 200 ‘borrow a life jacket’ stands at marine state parks, boat launches, and beaches.
More great boating safety readiness tips are found on the National Safe Boating Week website. Enjoy the coming warmer weather and sunshine on area waterways. Just know the weather before you go, and be safe on the water.
Yes, include the dog!