Watercraft Safety, Not Just for People

I have never met anyone who said life jackets are a bad idea.  When you go to the marina or harbor you see them in all the boats.  When the kids were growing up, life jackets were just as important to our family as car seats.  If we were going to be any where near a body of water,  my children had to wear life jackets.  Each year we got out the life jackets and threw them in a bathtub full of water.  If they didn’t pass the float test they went in the trash.  The most recently outgrown life jacket was given away and a new one was put in its place in the water sports closet.   It wasn’t something to think about.  Keeping and using life jackets was a “given”.

Now, all these years later, our kids are grown and raising kids of their own.  They are just as vigilant about life jackets as we were.  Knowing that my grandchildren are protected gives us peace of mind.

Pets?  What does all that have to do with pets?  Our dogs are like kids to us.  We want to protect them as much as we did our children.  Only natural right?  I guess not.  A friend mentioned to me that according to a document she read people put life jackets on their pets but not on their children.    How does someone say their dog is worth more to them than their teen-aged offspring?

According to U. S. Coast Guard documents, excluding personal water crafts, only about 20% of boaters wear life jackets.  More disturbing is that figure broken down by age indicate that 10% or fewer adults wear life jackets and 70% of youth under age 17 wear life jackets.  We need to look at that data again.

Age Group% Usage
0 - 596.6
6 - 1290.7
13 - 1741.4
18 - 648.5
65+7.2

Almost everyone wants to be sure children under age five survive.  Indeed, children this age don’t have the power to refuse adult demands.  A 6% decrease suggests to me that a few adults can’t even require a six year old to wear a life jacket.  It’s simply unbelievable that a six year old can tell an adult what he will and won’t do.  Teenagers fare much worse.  Their use of life jackets drops a whopping 45% compared to children under 5 years of age.  The trend for adults is shocking.  Less than 10% of adults wear life jackets.  Is it the older you get the more you think you could never be in a boating accident?

Adults are free to do stupid stuff to themselves all they want as long as they are not endangering others, not forcing the rest of us to watch, and not costing tax payer dollars with their stupid antics.  However, children and teenagers should not be allowed to escape wearing life jackets. There simply are  no excuses to allow minors on the water without one.  Today’s life jackets are inexpensive, light weight and comfortable.   Adults who endanger the lives of children and teens simply because they are unable to be the adult in the situation deserve more than to be ticketed.

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