The water is calling so go prepared

July 25, 2009 05:00 am

Summer is in full bloom, luring many people to the cool running waters of our favorite swimming holes. Already, a number of drownings have been reported at the state’s many rivers and lakes. In June, the body of a six-year-old was pulled from our own Chetco River.

There’s one thing that many of these tragedies have in common – the victims were not wearing life jackets.

Sobering statistics show that whether fishing, boating, waterskiing, sailing, kayaking or swimming in Oregon’s many waterways, life jackets save lives.

While approximately 90 percent of Oregon adults buckle up when driving or riding in a vehicle, it is estimated that, following national trends, only 10 percent of Oregonians age 18 and older regularly wear a life jacket when boating, said Ashley Massey, spokeswoman for the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB).

In an effort to reduce the number of drownings, Massey debunks some of the common myths about life jackets.

•Myth: I can grab a life jacket in an emergency.

Fact: Waiting to put on a life jacket until faced with an emergency is like trying to buckle your seat belt as you are heading into a car crash. Accidents typically occur quickly and unexpectedly, making it nearly impossible to reach for – let alone put on – a life jacket. 

•Myth: Wearing a life jacket is hot, bulky and impedes recreational fun.

Fact: The newest generation of life jackets are lightweight and more comfortable than ever to wear, including inflatables that can be worn around the waist and jackets that don’t look like jackets at all.

•Myth: Excellent swimmers don’t need to wear life jackets.

Fact: An unexpected plunge into cold and often swift Northwest waters can incapacitate even the best swimmers.

Ensuring a safe water experience this summer, and anytime of the year, is easy: Wear a lifejacket and make your children wear one, too.