We have the unfortunate task of reporting on a drowning that took place early this week on Lake Wateree. A 22-year-old Monroe, N.C., woman and some friends dove off a boat on the lake. She was the only one not to resurface and was not wearing a life jacket.
In 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents nationally involving 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries. Seventy-six percent of those who died drowned; 84.5 percent of those fatalities involved people who were not wearing a life jacket.
Also in 2017, the Coast Guard issued a life jacket wear rate observation study. The average life jacket wear rate for all boats and boaters combined for 2017 was 24.8 percent, the highest rate observed since the study began in 1999. However, when looking at just adults 18 years of age and older, the wear rate drops down to 11.9 percent. While this is still the highest level recorded since 1999, it still means that 88.1 percent of adults don’t appear to be wearing life jackets when they’re out boating.
The good news is, the life jacket rate for youth 17 and under was 71.9 in 2017, also the highest rate. So, at least we’re, mostly, protecting our children.
Back in 2015, the Coast Guard launched a campaign simply called “Wear It!” “It’s been proven time and again that wearing a life jacket while boating can significantly increase your rate of survival should something unexpected happen,” officials said.
We would suggest that every time anyone is out on the water, including Lake Wateree, they should wear a life jacket, regardless of age, regardless of activity.
It may be the one thing that buys you or those near you the time to save your life.