Staying Alive on the Water - Episode 1

I continue to read sad stories of people dying while on the water.  I’m not talking about the thrill seekers going down mile long waterfalls.  These are everyday people just enjoying time on the water.  Just yesterday I read a story about three folks who went out on a local lake in kayaks. All three bodies were found the next day.

In this case, as well as almost every similar case I read, there is one common denominator:

They weren’t wearing life jackets. 

I’ve been guilty.  I’m on a nice easy river, it’s hot, and I decide to use my lifejacket as a backrest.  Or a seat pad.  I’m a good paddler and a good swimmer.  No problem.

But then I’m reminded of the closest I came to dying on the water.  It was on a Class I river.

I was pretty young, maybe 9 or 10, and in a canoe with my father, who was a reasonably experienced paddler.  We were having a nice enjoyable float on a Class I river, and we were both using our lifejackets as seat cushions (which is what most people did back in the dark ages).   We came across a fallen tree, and yep, the canoe slammed sideways into the tree, tipped, and we both went under.  The fallen tree created tremendous water pressure against the canoe (and us), and I couldn’t get to the surface.  Fortunately, my dad was able to grab me and bring me to the surface.  But he was struggling.  My big strong dad, who fought in two wars, and was an athlete all his life, was struggling; and he was afraid.  Fortunately, with great effort, he was able to get us both safely to shore. 

Remember this was a Class I river. 

ANY river or lake can present unexpected hazards.  Just having a life jacket in the boat is not enough.  Circumstances may, or may not, allow you to grab that life jacket. 

So let’s all be part of the solution.  Set an example.  Spread the word on the dangers.  If you are going out with a group, strongly encourage everyone to wear their life jacket.

You could be saving a life.

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