I know that many of us spend time being on the water- at the lake, river, beach, or ocean. I love being water side because it is so peaceful and relaxing. I still feel this way but our accident last year forever changed how I view the water. Yes, it is beautiful to look at but it can be incredibly overwhelming and never ending. Waves don’t stop, water gets deep quickly, and even though you may feel in control, you are not with that much water around you. Through this experience, I have gained a healthy amount of respect for the strength and magnitude of water.
Our boat accident happened a year ago today. It was such a random and freak occurrence that I don’t think it could be duplicated if we tried. I’ve gone over that day in my head hundreds of times and each time realized or learned something new. I am also more sensitive to other’s boating/water stories and photos on social media. I wanted to put together my thoughts on what I have learned and recognized over the last year in hopes of helping prevent a similar accident again.
- I know many of you read my Plea for Life Jackets post several weeks ago. So I will just quickly say- all children who are on a dock or boat should be wearing an appropriately sized life jacket.
- If you are on a commercial boat with your child, do not hesitate to request a life jacket for them. Even if the crew says you don’t need one… the seas are calm… blah blah blah- demand a life jacket. We went on a very rough sightseeing boat tour in Ireland and I am so thankful we demanded a life jacket for our son. The children’s life jackets were stored in the downstairs main cabin, behind a metal door, and inside a wooden cabinet. Once the crewman got that far, he still had to dig through several to find a child sized jacket. Personally, that is not an easily accessible life jacket location. My heart is racing just thinking about him struggling to find one. I can only imagine what would (or wouldn’t happen) if the boat was in some sort of accident. So, let my lesson be yours too- get a life jacket for your kid or get off the boat (which is what we almost did with the initial push back we got from the crew).
- For adults, always know where the life jackets are kept and know how to access them.
- If you ever are on a boat and feel uncomfortable, put on a life jacket. It can’t hurt.
- I am not really a big fan of boating on major holidays- Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends. There are a lot of people on the water and many of them have no clue what they are doing. If you do want to go boating those days, I prefer to go early in the morning and be back right after lunch. Cracking a cold one or two or seven on the boat is very popular but mixing alcohol, fast boats, and lots of people is a bad equation. Boating early helps prevent this scenario from occurring.
- If for some reason you are on a boat that flips over, know that there is likely an air pocket under the boat where people may be trapped. Yes, this sounds scary (and it was) but they have air to breathe and can talk to one another there. It is important for rescuers to realize where this air pocket is under the boat so they can zoom in on where to look during the rescue. (Side note: When our boat flipped over, we quickly realized that some people were missing and were trapped underneath the boat. I immediately knew we had to get them out and the clock was ticking (I did not know about the air pocket). Thanks to watching Baywatch as a child, I knew I’d have to dive down under the boat to search for arms/legs. Who knew that Baywatch would be so helpful 25 years later?)
- If you go out on a boat, know where you get on the boat (i.e., name of marina, boat ramp, house address, etc). If something happens and your original captain can’t drive you home, you will be able to tell someone else where you need to go. You may not know how to get there but will atleast have an idea of the general vicinity.
A year later…
I am happy to say that my son happily jumped back on this boat for a ride yesterday. He did not hesitate. I thank God for his resilience in being back on the water in that same boat again.
We have not yet gone back to the location of the accident. I am not sure when/if I will. I know that time is helping to heal things though. For me, getting back on the boat several times over the last year has been a big deal. I will not let this accident scare me away from the water. But, I will take what I have learned to be even safer when boating. I hope you will all do the same!
love & learn, brooke