DELMARVA ALMANAC

Safety In Numbers

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Blurb - For story promotion only

This month I want to try something a little different. Let me give you a scenario about saftey on the water.

As I lay it out think about it and think how you would react. It's a nice summer day and your family of four is out for a day on the water, some fishing, maybe a little clamming, a picnic on the boat. You get the idea. This is a normal day just like many you've spent with your family. Now a twist...

Dad starts feeling a little odd and is having trouble breathing, then he just passes out. You call 911 but you still have to get the boat to the nearest dock and there is no one around. Can anyone else run the boat??? Dad always runs the boat, right???

Or, if someone fell overboard how do you safely return to that person without losing sight of them in the waves??? The coast guard and natural resources police have a lot of territory to cover. Minutes count in many of these situations. You hear sad stories like this every year.

If the primary operator of your boat should be unavailable who else is qualified to run the boat??? The guys typically run the boat and get offended if a woman or anyone else wants to run their boat. This even happens with fishing buddies.

ANYONE that spends a lot of time on a boat should have enough education and "wheel time" to be able to address emergency situations. This means wives, buddies, girl friends, and children. There is an age limit for operating a vessel but I doubt that anyone would hassle someone under aged that was able to bring a boat to dock in an emergency situation.

Women - you should demand that you get the instruction and the opportunity to be comfortable running the boat. Keep after it until you are comfortable in a wide variety of weather and sea conditions, not just when there's no wind on a sunny day. Learn how to dock the boat.

Kids - get them involved early. Take your time and be very patient. DON'T EVER exceed their comfort level. This will only scare them and completely turn them off the idea of learning these skills. I started with a small skiff at the age of 13 and have very specific memories of that level of freedom and responsibility. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Before you decide to start pushing toward this prepare yourself. Check out http://www.boat-ed.com. They have an online tutorial that walks you through the basics of boating. This course is the basis of many states boater safety programs (required to operate a vessel if born after a certain date which varies by state). This course is free!!!! Take it. If you need the certification card then they charge a fee. But if you want the education and don't require the card it's free.

I encourage everyone to do this. Accidents can happen any time. Be prepared and don't be a "I wish I had only" person. Just as important, one of those beautiful evenings you may just decide to go for a little sunset cruise for the peace and quiet by YOURSELF and you can. Enjoy the sunset and be safe.

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