WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY EQUIPMENT, most boaters start out doing just the right thing: We purchase products with a reputation for saving lives. However, after taking this crucial first step, we often just hang the gear on the rail or pack it away in a locker, assuming that our job is done. But it isn’t.
Buying proper safety gear simply initiates our comprehensive, planned, and
practiced on-the-water safety regimens.
NEXT STEP: LIFE JACKETS
It’s one thing to buy a quality life jacket. It’s another to practice putting it on and taking it
off, then trying to climb back into a boat with one on. If you’ve never pulled the cord on
an inflatable, getting an idea of what it’s like to land in the water and have your comfortable
inflatable life jacket burst into a couch cushion-sized flotation device can be an eye-opener.
There are two ways to get this real-world experience: 1. Jump into the water and try your life
jacket yourself, which will also give you an opportunity to learn how to replace your CO2
canister and bobbin. 2. Attend a hands-on boating-safety seminar or course near you (see
sidebar). Most programs give you a chance to try out a variety of different life jacket types in
a safe environment so you can build familiarity through practice.
BY RALPH NARANJO
THE NEXT STEP AFTER SHOPPING FOR SAFETY
The trip to the chandlery is just the beginning. Learning how to use your gear comes next
GOOD BoatU.S. FOUNDATION FOR BOATING
FOUNDATION SAFETY & CLEAN WATER
Safety-training seminars are useful
for both powerboaters and sailors,
and they build confidence with equipment by means of practice. One
session may instruct boaters how
to jump into a swimming pool while
wearing different kinds of life jackets
and flotation aids; another may lead
them through a participatory mock
crew-overboard recovery. Programs
such as Safety At Sea, which originated at the U.S. Naval Academy, offer
opportunities to try out a variety of
life jackets and teach skills including
learning to bleed off the air in your
inflatable using the purge valve on
the oral-inflation tube, then reflating
the life jacket orally — a life-saving
technique if you’re ever trapped
under an overturned boat.
Courses offered: On-the-water
boathandling and cruising.
Courses offered: Safety-at-Sea seminars with basic, coastal, and offshore
U.S. POWER SQUADRONS
Courses offered: Classroom and on-the-water instruction, from boating
basics through advanced piloting.
Courses offered: Multimedia-based
online courses on basic boating
safety, clean boating, weather, VHF,
and much more. www.BoatUS.org