Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Letter to the Editor

June 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Editor:

“Man Overboard” is a timely wake-up call for the 2015 recreational boating season, when over 600 people are projected to lose their lives, mostly by drowning. That’s a small number of the 88 million American boaters, but it’s cold comfort for the families who lose a loved one. Most of those deaths could have been prevented. Eighty-five percent of the victims, mainly men, will not be wearing life jackets.

Why is that? In a word, “macho.” Safety experts report that most male boaters boast “I know what I’m doing,” or “It won’t happen to me” or it’s “not cool” to don life jackets.

What’s it going to take to change attitudes? The National Safe Boating Council calls for mandatory life jacket wear. Some states have tightened their rules including New York, which requires a jacket for those under 12 years old and for all jet ski operators. But at the federal level there does not yet seem to be the political will. Apparently, many boaters feel it is an intrusion on their personal freedom — they don’t like to be told by a government agency what to do.

So, that leaves stepped-up boating education by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S.  Power Squadrons, yacht clubs, marinas and other boating organizations. Boating manufacturers could also get on the safety bandwagon. For some of them testosterone sells.

Are we headed toward a nautical nanny state? Ask the widow of a skipper.

Yours,

William C. Winslow

Public Affairs Officer

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

wcwinslow@aol.com

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