Life Jacket Safety

How to properly fit and use a life jacket

by Brittany McIntosh, Aquatics Director

Did you know that in Whatcom County alone, there are 26 lakes, 21 rivers, and 2 bays? That adds up to quite a few opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking. Since we are so active around water this time of year, it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge on boating safety. Check out our tips below and enjoy all the beauty the Northwest has to offer this July!

Always wear a life jacket

In Washington State, all children under the age of 12 are required by law to wear a life jacket while on board a vessel. However, it’s recommended by the US Coast Guard that everyone on board wear a life jacket – even if you’re a great swimmer! For tips on fitting a life jacket, take a look at our handy infographic.

Know or learn how to swim

Everyone on board should know some basic survival skills. The more comfortable you are in the water, the better your chance of survival should an accident occur. We offer group and private lessons for both adults and children on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Ask at the front desk for scheduling or visit our website at www.bellinghamathleticclub.com for more details.

Let someone know where you’re going

If you don’t have a Float Plan, let someone who’s staying ashore know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Write out all relevant location information including phone numbers, a description of the boat and all communication equipment on board, and an accurate location of the destination and home ports.

Assign at least one adult to supervise all children

As we always tell parents in our Angelfish classes, once you teach your child to love the water it acts as a magnet, drawing them close. You won’t be able to keep them away, so make sure they’re supervised in their play!

Carry extra supplies and safety equipment

This could include extra food and water supplies, life jackets, a cell phone, blankets, and a well-stocked first aid kit. Additionally, make sure passengers know where these supplies are located and how to use them.

Avoid alcohol

While we all want to have fun in the sun, boats are not the place for alcohol. It can affect balance, judgment and reaction speed – three things you will definitely need out on the water. More than half of all boating accidents in the US involve alcohol – don’t be a statistic! Leave the party on the shore and stay safe on your vessel.

Be wary of heat exhaustion

Wear lots of sunscreen, and bring extra water bottles. It’s also important to remember that sunscreen does wash off, so always reapply after a dip. Hats and sunglasses are always a big help, especially if you’ve got kids on board.

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