Not Just Another
By Wayne Spivak,
National Press Corp - National Marketing & Public Affairs Department,
"Just an old fashioned love song playing on the
radio" from the song "Old Fashioned Love Song"(words and lyrics by
Paul Williams) sounds just like every story you read about Personal
Flotation Devices, also known as PFD's and Life Jackets. "You'll swear
you've heard it before as it slowly rambles on and on", how you should
wear your PFD.
So, this story will catch an edge, and won't be
"Just an old fashioned love song" but will hopefully be "Coming down
in three part harmony." And those three parts are Why and When; When
and Where; and lastly Who, Why, When and Where.
Why and When
Why should you wear your PFD? Because it's the law?
Because it can save your life?
Unfortunately, unless you are a child under 13, and
not in the cabin, there is no requirement to wear a PFD.
Fortunately, it can save your life. In the latest
available Boating Accident Statistics – 2000 (COMDTPUB P16754.14), the
Coast Guard logged 701 fatalities. "Five
hundred and nineteen (519) boaters drowned in 2000... Life jackets
could have saved the lives of approximately 445 boaters who drowned.
In 2000, approximately eight out of every 10 victims in fatal boating
accidents were not wearing life jackets<."
The Why, in my book
provides a good reason to wear your PFD. The When is also easy! When
you get on your boat. When the boat leaves its slip or the dock. When
conditions are such, that you as a passenger or the pilot become
nervous. When the weather conditions change for the worse. When you
just would feel safer!
When and Where
Our second partner in
the three-part harmony is when and where. Where do you keep your PFD's?
(Where is extremely important. It could mean the difference between
life and death, and if you don't want to be that dramatic, how about
the difference from some time unconvinced or a ticket issued by the
Why life and death?
Should tragedy strike, there is limited time in which to act, and if
you have to go and start finding where your PFD's are, then you've
probably wasted precious time. A few years back, an amateur
videographer caught a boat sinking in Florida. Two people were wearing
PFD's, several others, including the skipper weren't. Those without
died. The boat went down in less than 30 seconds!
Federal law requires
one PFD for each passenger on a vessel. In addition, these PFD's must
readily accessible! The Coast Guard does not consider PFD's
still in the manufacturer's packaging as readably accessible. In
addition, PFD's sitting on the bottom of a compartment, with all sorts
of nautical doodads on top of it, are also not considered to be
accessible. If your PFD's aren't readably accessible, as far as the
Coast Guard is concerned, you don't have any.
So, if the Coast Guard
stops you for a safety check and you don't have the required PFD's,
you're going to get cited!
So when law enforcement
stops you, if you are wearing your PFD's, wow, that's terrific!
Otherwise, where they are located can be a lifesaver to you and a time
saver as well!
Who, Why, When and
Now this is a mouthful.
And the answers are so simple.
Who: You, and every
one else on your boat.
Why: Because it's the
right thing to do!
When: When you walk
onto your vessel.
Where: Need more
information about boating and safety? Why not contact your local
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla and take a safe boating
course! They can be contacted via the Internet at:
http://www.cgaux.org< or thru
your local Coast Guard unit