Got your seatbelt on?

The paddling season is here! As we venture onto the water the question is whether or not you’ll be wearing your ‘seatbelt’ aka life jacket, buoyancy aid also known as a personal flotation device or pfd.

Carrying your jacket is one thing, putting it on in an emergency situation in the water another. Why not set the new trend and wear it during all paddlesport activity this season and forever more?

When out with your friends practice trying to put your pfd on in the water after doing a wet exit with your jacket in the boat, how long does this take? Is it easy to do? Can the jacket be put on in the water under conditions, i.e. wind, waves?

The law for requiring mandatory wearing of seat belts passed in NY in 1984. New York was the first state to pass this law. The whys and wherefores for wearing seat belts is well know, many people were injured in accidents as a result of not having a belt on. The same could be said for paddlesport fatalities and rather than wait for the statistics to increase, lets do our part and wear ours on the water.

The coast guard recreational boating statistics are in for the number of casualties in paddlesport. Sadly, the death toll is going up. Even with jackets on as hypothermia comes into play if the correct paddle clothing isn’t worn.

As a paddling community we can do our part to educate ourselves and friends about the benefits of wearing pfds, least not is that there are people on land who want to see you return.

For a full copy of the report and presentation please email Andrea on seabird.ava@gmail.com. Alternatively you can contact the ACA for the same report, aca@americancanoe.org.

To check the laws in the states you’re paddling, https://www.boatus.org/life-jacket-loaner/state-requirements/.

The goal for our paddling community is to see a fall in fatalities, wear your ‘seatbelt’, learn the rules of the road, leave a paddle plan, paddle together, have fun and enjoy!

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