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Lake & Rivers Local News

Stay Safe on Canyon Lake by Wearing Life Jackets, Boating Responsibly

A GoPro Camera captured the fear on the faces of two boys awaiting rescue after the boat they were riding in capsized in rough waters near Hawaii. The U.S. Coast Guard says wearing life jackets saves lives. File image.

A 34-year-old Houston man drowned in Canyon Lake last week after jumping off a pontoon boat to rescue family members who were struggling in the water.

He became the lake’s first fatality of the year. Click here to read more about that incident.

Boating accidents and accidental drownings are a big concern for both the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which manages Canyon Lake and properties adjacent to the water.

“It’s critical for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times because it very likely will save your life,” Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters, said last year when the Coast Guard released its 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report.

“Ensure that it is serviceable, properly sized and correctly worn,” he said.

The Coast Guard recommends all boaters wear a life jacket, take a boating-safety course, attach an engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check and boat sober.

Boating Accidents

According to the 2019 report, operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents.

Where boating instruction was known, 70-percent of deaths occurred on vehicles where the operator had not received boating-safety instruction.

The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters take a boating-safety course that meets the National Boating Education Standards before getting in the water.

The most-common vessel types involved in accidents are open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats. Vessels with the highest percentage of deaths are open motorboats (48 percent), kayaks (14 percent) and personal watercraft (eight percent).

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2019, accounting for over 100 deaths or 23-percent of total fatalities.

Personal Flotation Devices

According to USACE, there are five types of personal-flotation devices (PFDs) that are approved by the Coast Guard.

Each one is ranked for different types of activities and situations.

Type 1: This PFD is recommended for offshore activities like deep-sea fishing, cruises or stormy conditions. If you fall off of a boat and become unconscious, this PFD will most likely turn you over and keep your head out of the water. In rough water, this is extremely important for survival.

Type 2: This PFD is used for inland waters such as lakes and smaller bodies of water where you are more likely to be noticed and rescued quickly. It will keep you afloat but it may not always roll you onto your back to keep your head out of water if you’re unconscious.

Type 3: A Type 3 life jacket is also designed for inland waters where immediate rescue is very likely. It’s used for activities like kayaking, sailing, fishing or skiing.

The big difference between Type 2 and Type 3 life jackets is that Type 3 will not flip you over because there is no head support behind the neck.

Type 4: This isn’t actually a life jacket. These PFDs are meant to be thrown overboard during a rescue situation. A life ring or a square throwable cushion are two different kinds used on a boat. These PFDs are required by law. The next time you’re out on the water, make sure a throwable Type 4 PFD is within reach.

Type 5: These inflatable life jackets are extremely popular. They’re good for inland lake activities like fishing, boating or kayaking. They’re lightweight and cool on hot days. The PFDs also are not bulky and give recreationalists plenty of room to move around. They rely on a CO2 cartridge to become inflated and will inflate once you jump in the water or pull the cord.

However, they require more maintenance than other types of life jackets. The CO2 cartridge must be replaced once used or expired. They must be stored in a cool place.

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