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Boating safety - It could mean your life
With the days of summer winding down, many boaters are still traveling to nearby lakes to enjoy the open waters before fall and winter sets in. Because the potential for boating incidents and injuries are always present, it is very important for boaters to take proper precautions to ensure their safety, as well as their passenger’s safety. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic)
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Commentary - Safety recommendations…not just a label

Posted 8/18/2011   Updated 8/18/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by 1st Lt. Joshua Meents
53d Electronic Warfare Group, Detachment 1


8/18/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- I consider myself pretty experienced when it comes to boating, but I learned during a summer day trip that experience does not trump safety and following the rules.

It all started when a group of friends and I decided to spend the day on my brother's ski boat. It was a great day to be outside and we wanted to take advantage of the enjoyable weather. When we got out on the river, I took a turn water-skiing. After I ended my run, I got on the back of our boat and began taking off my life vest. Just then, a large wave coming from a passing boat crashed into the front of our boat. Our driver quickly gunned the engine, in an attempt to get our boat over the waves, but we ended up dipping into the second wave. I was thrown off the back of the boat and into the water. And if that was not bad enough, this wave began to flood our boat.

Normally, the wave would have resulted in a couple of inches of standing water in our boat, which would not be an issue. However, that day we had 11 people, weighing about 2,000 pounds, plus some weighted ballast tanks on the boat. This was much more than the certified amount of eight people and our extra weight began to cause a big problem.

Our boat quickly filled with almost two feet of water, which would be enough to send our boat to the bottom of the river within minutes if the people on the boat did not act quickly.

Thankfully, the people in our boat realized the situation they were in and frantically began to bail water out of the boat with anything they could get their hands on. Soon enough they had emptied the boat of the excess water and, luckily, everything turned out to be fine except for a flooded, broken amplifier and a CD player.

That experience taught me to pay attention to safety recommendations. They are there for a reason and will help us preserve our health and property.

Boating is a great way to deal with the summer heat, but every summer, countless injuries, deaths and expensive property damage occur from improper boating and a lack of water safety. Do yourself a favor and follow the safety regulations whenever you engage in an outdoor activity and you should avoid having to deal with a scary situation like I did.



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