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Perspectives on safe boating
May 20, 2020

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It is a proven fact that wearing life jackets saves lives, however why are they not more commonly worn? Let's dig deeper on personal attitudes toward wearing a life jacket. Where do you fit in?

- I don't like to be told what to do.

- Life jackets cramp my fashion statement.

- They are too cumbersome.

- I am a safe boater and don't need to.

- It's too hot to wear one.

- I know how to swim.

- They are uncomfortable.

- Life jackets can be expensive.

Whatever your reason, it begins with your attitude towards watersports. Watersports are indeed enjoyable activities from fishing to cruising, however we make certain assumptions. Assumptions such as we will be returning to the dock and will not be involved in a boating mishap. Note that I say mishap rather than "accident." Things can go terribly wrong while on the water from a myriad of situations such as changes in weather, mechanical issues and operator error. There are many tips to practice safe boating that help reduce your risks while enjoying our local waterways. It must first begin with your attitude towards the sport. Hockey and football players use helmets and body pads to reduce risks from personal injury. They learned the basics and nuances of their sport. Team members learned how to play and understand the risks. They embrace personal protective devices. So why do so many boaters simply don't wear life jackets or learn the basics of boating?

You don't need to be a boating expert or charter captain to embrace safe watersport practices. Start with a mindset for safe boating. Learn the sport by taking a basic safe boating class. Demonstrate to others the importance of wearing a life jacket at the very least while underway or always when boating by yourself. Set the example to others, especially for younger water enthusiasts. It's your choice for safe and responsible boating. Take a selfie wearing a lifejacket and post it on Facebook @AUX91FMB.

For more information, visit www.cgaux.org.

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Regular Size Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander