On July 8, 2013, the Dallas Morning News shared Kirstyn Blackwood’s story. She’d been out with friends on a boat at Lake Ray Hubbard near Rockwall for the fourth. After a day of sun and partying, the boat fired up its engine and headed back to the marina. The only problem was Kirstyn who’d jumped off the boat was accidently left by her group. She called out to the boat when it began to pull away but wasn’t heard due to the music being played. They discovered she was missing when they arrived back at the marina and notified the police.
She was able to tread water for over two hours before being rescued by the police. The authorities who rescued her were looking as much under the water for her body as they were for her. She was treated at a local hospital in Rockwall for a cut to her chest, bruises on her legs, and cuts on her feet before being released.
Kirstyn was lucky. Her storybook happy ending could have been tragic. Every summer, people drown in area lakes for a variety of reasons. Most are preventable though with just a few safe boating practices.
Life Jackets: There should be a life jacket for every member of your party, and they should be worn. They should be the right size for each member on the boat and easily accessible. Remember, life jackets only work when they’re worn.
Drink Responsibly: Most people wouldn’t dream of driving while intoxicated, yet many don’t practice this when driving a boat. Have a designated driver for the boat who knows how to drive it.
Communicate: If you’re going to get in the water, let someone on the boat know what you’re doing. That simple act could prevent you from being stranded.
Headcount: Have an accurate headcount of everyone who’s on board the boat when you leave the marina or put in. Count everyone anytime you move the boat to make sure everyone’s on board.
Be Familiar: Take time to get to know the body of water you’re on if you’re new to it. Coast Guard maps show sandbars and hidden obstructions that could harm the boat and the people on it.
Water Levels: Most lakes across north Texas are not full, even with the good rain we’ve had the last two weeks. Take time to talk with the marina about the water level so you know where it’s safe to boat and swim.
It’s easy to have a fun and safe summer boating season simply by adopting these 6 safe boating practices. If you’ve never taken a boater’s safety class that’s taught by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, take the time to attend one. It does provide an attractive discount on your boater’s insurance.
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