It’s the last summer holiday weekend and the last chance for many to spend time on their boats. Lou An McCraken of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says you should be sure to have a life jacket on hand for everyone. She says it’s not enough just to have it in the boat, you need to put it on.
“It’s not a burden to wear a life jacket if you find a good comfortable Coast Guard-approved life jacket…you’ll want to wear it to keep you safe and for everyone in your family who you care about,” McCraken says. McCracken is a Natural Resource Specialist who works on the Mississippi River.
McCracken says each year a number of boating accidents claim lives because someone fell into the water and underestimated their swimming ability. And sometimes swimming isn’t even an option, especially on rivers like the Mississippi. “You could have bumped your head, you could have had a medical condition that caused you to fall out, you pass out for any number of reasons, you may have hit something submerged that bumps you out of your boat,” McCraken says. “The Mississippi River is always changing, it’s such a dynamic river.”
McCracken says 9 of 10 people who drowned in lakes and river last year were not wearing a life jacket. She also says because the Mississippi is such a vast body of water, conditions vary on different sections of the river. What may be safe in one location could pose a danger elsewhere.