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Safe at Sea: 2019 proving to be deadliest boating year

By Staff | May 7, 2019

A local newspaper recently ran a front-page article that should have alarmed all boaters in our Gulf waters. The headline read, “5 Killed in Boating Accidents since 2019 in Lee County.”

In the first three months of this year, those five deaths equate to more than double the boating fatalities in all of 2018.

Of those five deaths, three were the result of “man-overboard” situations:

– Boater fell overboard on the Caloosahatchee near the Edison Bridge

– Boater fell overboard in Bokelia, near Charlotte Harbor

– Boater fell overboard near Cayo Costa

This brings us to life jackets. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Investigator Jason Cooke remarked in the article that “maybe something good can come out of such a tragic event (M.O.B).”

Surely the simplest and certainly the easiest way to prevent death on the water is wearing a life jacket, even for the experienced boater and excellent swimmer.

Cooke concurred, “In fact, most boating accidents deaths result from not wearing life jackets.” For example, 81 percent of victims in Florida’s boating accidents in 2017 were not wearing life jackets and 73 percent were – reportedly – able to swim.

The reality: Knowing how to swim when knocked unconscious while being thrown overboard is of no value.

So as National Safe Boating Week approaches, which is set for May 18-24, every boater needs to be reminded (and re-reminded): Wear your life jacket!

As the summer approaches, even more boaters will be on the waters. Make it a habit to grab that life jacket and put it on. Be sure that the passengers on your boat do likewise.

Need additional life jackets? Thanks to America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva and Tow Boat US, the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District’s Station 171, at 2351 Palm Ridge Road, has jackets available in all sizes. You simply help yourself, and when you are finished with them, you return them.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or Commander@SanibelCaptivaSPS.org or visit online at sancapboating.club.