Life jackets and safe boating can help save lives
Written by: Annette Ross
At Black Canyon Dam in Emmett, Idaho, work crews clear debris away from canal and powerplant intakes all summer long. Dan Dunnam says he’s always careful launching at boat ramps.National Safe Boating Week is May 18–24, 2019. The Bureau of Reclamation Pacific Northwest Regional Office is recognizing the importance of safe boating through several activities aimed at reminding watercraft users to practice boating and life jacket safety while working or enjoying activities on the lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.
The Coast Guard’s latest statistics (2017) show drowning as the cause of death in 76% of all fatalities. Nearly 85% of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. Also, recreational boating accidents caused 658 deaths, more than 2,600 injuries, and about $46 million in property damage.
We asked some of our experts about their thoughts on improving safety on the water. Here’s what they tell us!
“No life jacket? Not cool,” said Hydromechanic Cody Brite. “Wear a life jacket, it’s the smart thing to do!” Brite helps secure buoys and performs other maintenance on Lake Roosevelt at Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. All Reclamation employees wear personal flotation devices (PFD) when operating or riding in watercraft on the job.
Grand Coulee Dam Geologist Mike Bjorklund says, “Keep an eye out for other boats and know the basic rules of boating.” As a certified Reclamation motor boat operator, he is responsible for piloting his boat safely and in accordance with maritime navigation rules.
“Be prepared for anything,” said Chemist Norbert Cannon in Boise, Idaho. Cannon spends about 12 weeks throughout the summer on the water collecting water samples from Reclamation reservoirs. He advises boaters to be aware of hazards in and around you and to monitor weather conditions.
At Black Canyon Dam in Emmett, Idaho, Dan Dunnam says, “Watch out for kids, co-workers, or anyone else when backing your boat into the water. Make sure each watercraft has a life jacket or PFD for each person on board, and a throwable PFD.”
“Be sure to outline a plan with a safety protocol for checking in with family and friends,” said Chris Humphries with the Yakima Field Office in Washington. “Have back up communications on board such as a satellite messenger unit to send an SOS signal in case cell service is unreliable.”
Be careful while you are out on the water having fun or working. Safe Boating Week is not just May 18–24, but it is all year long!
Published on May 17, 2019