Last week four tubers got stuck on the Puntledge River in Courtenay. This week, folks were rescued from the Campbell River. It was a warning to anyone who’s thinking about getting out on the water this summer. Fortunately it was a warning with a happy ending.
For anyone who sees people tubing down the Cowichan River, they know that few people outside of young children make use of a personal flotation device when they head out for an afternoon of fun, no matter their swimming skill level. For many people, when heading out on a boat, they’re even less likely to don a lifejacket. They seem to somehow think the boat is a little piece of land they are taking with them, and it will keep them safe. Of course, it’s not always so.
So why do so many people skip the lifejacket? Do they overestimate their ability to swim? Underestimate the river and the chance of something unexpected happening? Not want to cover up the new bikini, or maybe those six-pack abs they’ve worked so hard for in the off-season? Is it just uncool?
Of course it’s even more uncool to die. Especially in a totally preventable tragedy.
Consider this before you make that decision to forgo the lifejacket: it doesn’t matter how well you can swim if you get dumped in the water (off your boat, or your tube, it doesn’t matter) and hit your head on a rock, or on debris, or a log and are knocked unconscious. Then, the only thing keeping you afloat, or not, is your lifejacket. It’s the difference between life and death.
It’s easy to get tired when trying to swim against even a mild current, and suddenly your swimming prowess doesn’t seem quite as good as you counted on.
Getting out on the water is a lot of fun during the summer, and we certainly don’t aim to dissuade anyone. However, consider safety before you wade in. We don’t want to have to report a tragedy.