The very second you step out onto a dock for the purpose of recreational boating you are silently accepting all the risks that go along with it. The goal of organizations like America’s Boating Club, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Safe Boating Council is to help boaters know these risks and try to minimize them. Encouraging the use of life jackets is one of the simplest but most important ways to do so.
According to the American Boating Association’s executive summary in 2016, out of all the fatalities with a known cause while boating, drowning accounted for 80% of them, and out of those thousands of victims, 83% of them were not wearing life jackets. Some people think having them on board for an emergency is enough, but things can go wrong so quickly while on the water. That is why the Safe Boating Council created a program called “Wear It.” It is reminiscent of the Department of Transportation’s “Buckle Up” slogan and essentially the same idea. Too many people have been tragically injured or killed because they did not strap something mildly uncomfortable onto themselves. The Wear It campaign aims to make the act of wearing proper and fitting life jackets, while boating, a common practice, just like seatbelts nowadays.
To support this campaign America’s Boating Club Marco Island, decided to host a Wear It event at Rose Marina. Being a Boy Scout on the search for an Eagle Scout project and a member of this club since I was 12, I was approached to help them organize and strengthen their Facebook page for the purpose of online education and communicating with members. I gladly accepted it. Then I was alerted that the ABC would be holding a Wear It event and invited me to help coordinate, get the supplies, and advertise for it. I realized I could connect both the education on Facebook and in person at the Wear It Event.
Ultimately, this became my Eagle Scout project. I was willing to put over 35 hours of my own time into this because I believe in the message. Boating safety has always been a very important topic to me due to an accident I experienced at the age of 11. That experience taught me the importance of boating education, and how open it should be to the public. However, educators can only go so far. We rely on you to search for yourself, whether it be on our club’s Facebook page, other places online, or in classes. Hopefully, upon reading this article you now understand better that a life jacket is not something to be forgotten in a compartment on your boat, and instead a device that can prevent unwanted tragedy in your vessel. So please, have fun, be cautious, and remember to “Wear It.”