This is a very difficult post to write but I think it is VERY important to share especially as summer vacations are quickly approaching.
I grew up on water… the Savannah River to be exact and have been swimming and boating as long as I can remember. In the summers, we’d go to a sandbar to swim 2-3 nights a week and would spend several hours there on Sunday afternoons. I love being on the water, it is so calm, beautiful and peaceful.
Growing up on the river meant that my parents had strict rules about life jackets. We always had to wear them. The boat would not turn start until everyone had on their life jacket. Even if we were strong swimmers, we always wore our life jacket jumping into the water. We wore them on pontoon boats, jet boats, and fishing boats… discrimination on the kind of boat did not matter. If you were leaving the dock, you had on a life jacket. Thankfully, we never had any issues with following this rule and had plenty of fun, safe boating.
Fast forward to last Memorial Day weekend, my family was on a boat leaving the beach off the Georgia coast. I’m still unsure of what really happened, but a wave knocked our boat over and we were all tossed into the ocean a few hundred feet from shore. Thankfully, all of the children had on life jackets, including my 3 year old son. He did not know how to swim and the water was deep. His second-hand, $10 life jacket SAVED HIS LIFE and for that, I will always be SO grateful.
I had been boating EVERY single summer for 31 years of my life and never had a boat flip. It was totally a fluke but I am so thankful we were prepared.
Please do yourself and your children a favor… make them wear a life jacket. Obviously, it is so important to wear while on a boat or while tubing but also on a dock too. Things can happen so quickly.
It is also valuable to remember that you cannot control all situations. Yes, you may be a safe boat driver but you can’t control how others are driving their boat. Or yes, your children may know not to go near the edge of a dock, but what happens if a raccoon runs down the dock towards them? (No joke, this has happened to me.) So many things are not in our control but putting your child in a well fitted life jacket is.
And finally, every time I mention this story to friends, I want to make one final point. As an adult, if you are ever in a situation where you feel uncomfortable on a boat or body of water, just put on a life jacket. There is no harm or foul in just being prepared. Yes, the water is beautiful, calm and relaxing but we have to also remember how deep, strong, and overpowering it can be.
If you want more info on life jackets, I’d encourage you to check out the US Coast Guard website.
I wish you all a safe, wonderful and happy summer at the lake, river or ocean!
learn & love, brooke