With Labor Day weekend coming up, people hitting the open water need to take precautions to ensure neither they nor a loved one is the next drowning of what’s been a tragic summer.
Many drownings could have been prevented had the victim or adult supervisor taken simple, common-sense precautions when boating or swimming that are too often forgotten or ignored, particularly during a holiday when there is more boat traffic, more swimming and, as a result, an increased risk.
"This type of weekend puts a lot of people on the water who aren't normally there, and a lot of people who are experienced can get a little carried away trying impress others, which makes for a potentially dangerous combination," said DNR director Robert E. Carter Jr.
In many cases, the simple step of not only having but wearing a proper lifejacket can be a life-or-death difference. Although this message has been sent all over the state with the DNR's public service announcement "Wear it Indiana" television and radio campaign, some individuals still haven't gotten the message or will forget it or ignore it.
In addition to being invaluable safety devices, modern lifejackets are much more comfortable to wear than past models. Technology has advanced the comfort level of lifejackets immensely, to a level that no boater or non-swimmer should have an excuse not to wear one.
Indiana law requires all watercraft to be equipped with one wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket for each person on board or being towed, that the lifejacket fits the person who intends to wear it, and that boats 16 feet long and longer, except for canoes or kayaks, have at least one throwable personal flotation device on board.