Senior boaters ‘the problem crowd’ for life-jacket use

Few would argue that wisdom comes with age; however, when it comes to water safety, it doesn't seem to be the case.

Members of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron

Few would argue that wisdom comes with age; however, when it comes to water safety, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Members of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and Kelowna Yacht Club were at the yacht club docks Saturday, trying to promote the importance of wearing a personal flotation device.

“We’re making people aware that life-jackets save lives,” said Marguerite Berry, Canadian Power and Sail Squadron commander for Kelowna.

The We Wear It initiative is part of Safe Boating Awareness Week, which runs from May 26 to June 1.

Berry said that they were trying to spread the awareness to all ages, especially seniors.

“The 55-plus crowd is the problem crowd because (some use PFDs) on their boats as seat cushions or rest with them as a pillow.”

Younger generations have had better education on the importance of life-jackets; therefore, they’re more likely to use them, said Berry.

“Same thing in our cars—(the older) generation rolled around in the front and back seat. When they had children, they all came home in car seats, buckled up.

“Now we are making sure everybody is buckled up. . .we hope the same safety awareness is going to happen on the boat.”

Berry admitted that there are still younger boaters who are more concerned about style than safety.

As a solution, the We Wear It promotion showed off a few models of life-jackets that might be deemed “cooler” than standard orange and yellow PFDs.

Mustang Inflatable PFDs are a non-bulky option that contain a CO2 cartridge. When in danger of drowning, the user can pull a cord, which automatically inflates the life-jacket to keep the user’s head above water.

There are also pouches, which look like fanny packs, that use the same concept without affecting tan lines.

Berry said Saturday’s message was being spread to all boaters, not just those who use motorized vessels.

“Statistics tell us that fatalities are up 56 per cent in paddle boats. All paddle board and canoeing incidents have been greatly increased with fatalities because people are not wearing a life-jacket.”

Those who were caught wearing a life-jacket were offered a free hot dog Saturday. Mustang Survival also provided free CO2 cartridges so that the group could give demonstrations of what it looks like to pull the cord on CO2-powered life-jackets.

“We’re just hoping that people wear their life-jackets and put them on their children. . .we all want to have a fun day and come back.”

CPS Kelowna is a volunteer, nonprofit organization that has been teaching the public safe boating courses at the Kelowna Yacht Club for 51 years.

For more information, visit cpskelowna.ca.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com