Sports and Outdoors
Normal Lake Level is 322.00 feet
above Mean Sea Level.
preparation and life jackets save lives
By Jim Salzmann
Special to The Monitor
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The national media has been saturated with the gripping story of four athletes who went fishing off Clearwater, Fla., recently.
National Football League players Victor “Marquis” Cooper and Cory Smith, along with former University of South Florida football players Will Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, were thrown into the sea when their boat capsized Feb. 28.
Schuyler alone was rescued and is recuperating from the effects of exposure and hypothermia, while the U.S. Coast Guard search for Cooper, Smith and Bleakley was called off March 3.
Doctors were calling Schuyler’s survival “a miracle,” since he was in 63-degree water for about 46 hours before his rescue. Doctors estimated Schuyler would not have survived another eight to 10 hours if he had not been found.
These men set off confident in their knowledge and skill, but were overpowered by nature. The tragic result of an enjoyable outing of four friends reminds us all to take proper care when setting out upon the waters.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of people who die in recreational boating accidents each year is about the same as those who perish in general aviation accidents.
There is a high perception of the potential dangers inherent in aviation, while boating is thought to be relatively safe.
In most places, a person with no boating experience can rent a boat and take to the high seas – no questions asked. The same is not true for operating an airplane or even an automobile.
Most boating accidents are preventable. It starts by everyone on a boat wearing a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Wearing a life jacket will keep you afloat and help delay the effects of hypothermia. Remember – life jackets save lives!
Education, planning and preparation are also vital to a successful boating outing.
Education. Whether your state requires boater education or not, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary urges that every boater takes a Boater Education class.
Just like an automobile or an airplane, operating a boat requires more than just throttling up or setting a sail and getting underway.
There are navigation rules, weather considerations, knowing how to respond to a person overboard, knowing how to place a distress call and knowing how to respond when you are physically unable, among other bits of knowledge.
Remember – educated boaters save lives. Take a boating safety class. Call Jon Raden, Public Education Staff Officer, at (972) 875-7842.
Preparation and Planning. Have your boat checked out to make sure it complies with applicable Federal and State regulations for boats.
These checks conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron help make sure that you have needed safety equipment on your boat.
Remember – safe boats save lives! Get a Vessel Safety Check.
File a Float Plan with a friend or other relative. Make sure they know where you plan on boating and when you plan on returning.
They also need to know who to call, if you do not return at the indicated time.
Make sure you have effective communications for your boating outing. A marine band VHF-FM radio can be extremely valuable, but has limited range.
Additionally, cell phones become less effective the further you are from shore, and may receive no signal at all beyond 15-20 miles.
Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts – be prepared for sudden and dramatic changes in weather, whether you are couple of miles offshore or 20 miles away from land.
It is common for fog to develop or strong winds to start blowing. Listen to weather forecasts before you go and on your VHF-FM marine radio while underway.
Many times, weather near shore is significantly calmer than weather offshore, and knowing the forecast for your intended destination can help you decide whether to leave the dock, stay in more protected areas or even stay at home.
What if you do end up in the water unintentionally? If you are wearing your life jacket you’re half-way there.
If the boat does capsize, keep everyone together and stay with the boat
Flares, mirrors, strobe lights, whistles and other signaling devices allow rescuers to quickly locate people who are already in the water and need help.
The Coast Guard will search at night, as well as during daylight, and anything that will make you more visible significantly aids your ability to be detected.
Again, always wear a life jacket. Life jackets save lives!
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Mabank’s girls, who have already clinched the District 31-4A
fourth-place berth, also fell to the Lindale Lady Eagles 4-1 Tuesday
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