Tip #5: DON’T JUST PACK IT – WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET
Once warm weather finally makes it to Wisconsin, many boaters enjoy the feel of sun and spray. It is tempting to boat without wearing a life jacket especially on nice days. But, most boating related drownings happen on nice days.
The law in Wisconsin states all vessels including canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards must have at least one USCG approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. Children 13 years old and younger must wear a life jacket that fits them on moving coastal waters. In addition, all vessels 16 ft or more in length must have one USCG approved throwable personal safety device onboard that is immediately accessible.
It is not enough to just have the life jacket on board. Ask yourself, in case of emergency, would you have the time to find it, grab it, and put it on you before you and your loved ones are in the water?
According to the US Coast Guard, in 2020, there were 767 deaths due to boating accidents with 575 of those deaths attributed to drowning. Eighty percent of (or 460) those victims were NOT wearing a life jacket.
Overestimating your ability to swim is one of the main reasons given for going without a life jacket. Even the best swimmers can (and do) get into trouble with sudden immersion in cold water or by being knocked unconscious. Knowing how to swim does not protect you from drowning, when faced with fear and anxiety you may react differently than you think.
It is also the assumption that the majority of drowning victims are children. However, 1 and 5 people who die from drowning are children, which means that adults are the other four.