September 27, 2018
Children, boating and safety; what every parent needs to know!
Every parents’ first concern is the safety of their child. Parents must safeguard against so many things, from food, to household items, to equipment. As they grow older, the worry remains, while the products and situations become more difficult to navigate. Situations such as taking the proper precautions and courses before boating for the first time which could mean the difference between life and death. Samantha Casey and Brennon Johnson are two examples of how a boating course could have potentially changed their lives. As of January 1, 2018, the mandatory boating safety education law is in effect and will be phased in over eight years. If you operate any type of motorized vessel on California waterways (including powered sailboats/paddle craft), you will be required to pass an approved boating safety exam and carry a lifetime California Boater Card.
Samantha Casey was only 13 years old when a fatal PWC crash changed her life forever. The crash almost took her life and was caused by a lack of boating safety instructions. Because Samantha was only 13-years old, she did not yet have her driver’s license and therefore was not aware of things such as blind spots. As she rode around the lake with her sister’s boyfriend, she made a sharp right turn without looking behind her. Had Samantha taken a boating course, “[she] would have seen the nose of [the] other jet ski and could have potentially prevented the collision.” Samantha Casey. The collision was such a high and forceful impact that the other jet ski went right through her leg, breaking her tibia and fibula, destroying most of her tendons and movement in her toes and ankle as well as breaking through the fibreglass on the jet ski she was on. Samantha regained her strength to walk again but will carry scars from that day in her mind for the rest of her life.
Brennon Johnson was 14-years-old when his kayak capsized one afternoon in August. Brennon drowned in his lifejacket, upside down in his seat. There is no telling why Brennon’s kayak rolled or why he was unable to get back up, but certainly an online course would have taught Brennon how to use a paddle for a brace to better keep his kayak upright. His parents “… made him take [a] hunting class. But for his kayak, [they] never made him take a class.” This activity, along with canoeing, is often overlooked when it comes to safety courses, perhaps because it’s seen as a relaxing, recreational activity. However, there are many steps and safety tips to remember before embarking on a canoe or kayak trip. After all, “The power of water is immense, and it can either cause tragedy or it can be really big fun and the difference is learning what to do and how to handle it.” Nora Whitmore, a Whitewater kayaker and instructor.
California has one of the highest recorded number of boating accidents, fatal accidents and deaths than any other state in the US. In 2017, the US Coast Guard released boating accident statistics which stated that “…81% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 14% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.” This statistic supports the fact that by taking a boating safety course, you can decrease the chances of boating accidents that might potentially cause a near-fatal accident or death. As a parent, your child’s safety is always the top priority. Before they get on the water, it’s up to you to make sure they are equipped with the right knowledge and tools. for as little as $20, your child can complete an online boating safety course approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). Some providers such as this one even include a free paddling safety course.