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    Tips to Prevent Water-Related Retrieval Fatalities

    Tips to Prevent Water-Related Retrieval Fatalities

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    Nobody thinks they might die trying to save a boat, hat, or an inflatable toy! However, every year too many people drown while swimming in an attempt to retrieve those things. The most common scenario is when a boat isn’t tied up properly to the shore or a boat ramp and instinctively someone jumps in the water and attempts to swim to retrieve it. Another scenario is someone’s hat blows off while riding in a boat, someone jumps in to retrieve it, and the wave action of their boat or someone else’s boat makes swimming difficult and the retriever drowns.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the leading provider of water-based recreation in the United States. In the past five fiscal years (2014-2018), USACE statistics associated with those who drown trying to retrieve something, identify 97% are men. According to all retrieval fatalities in the same time frame, the average age of a retriever who drowns is 43. The majority of retrievers 41% are trying to save a boat drifting away from a boat ramp or the shore. Another 34% were attempting to retrieve objects like hats, inflatable toys, and other items. The saddest of all is when someone dies jumping off a boat in an attempt to help another person in the water and 24% of the time that happens.

    In all these horrific incidents, usually current or wave action causes the boat, person, or object to drift farther than expected and the person trying to retrieve something or someone drowns. Obviously these retrievers couldn’t swim as well as they thought they could. Many people aren’t aware of the differences of swimming in natural waters (lakes, rivers, ocean etc.) and swimming in a pool. Those properly trained in rescuing people in natural waters know to never go near someone struggling in the water without first throwing or reaching to the person with something that floats. Also, sometimes when the operator is the one who has gone overboard to retrieve something, the remaining people on a drifting boat don’t know how to start or drive it to help the person that went overboard.

    One simple step to prevent retrieval fatalities is to have everyone put on their life jacket before you launch your boat. Another good boating practice is to learn proper knot tying techniques so your boat doesn’t get loose when you’re launching or when your boat is tied to a dock or shore. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure others on your boat know how to start and drive the boat in an emergency situation. By keeping starting instructions near the helm, you can help those who don’t operate the boat very often remember how to do that. Most importantly, if you don’t have a life jacket on, don’t go out to retrieve a boat or an object yourself, let it go, and just wait until you can get help from another boater to bring it back. It’s not worth losing your life over a boat or toy.

    How to Prevent Water-Related Retrieval Fatalities:
    1. When launching, have everyone put on their life jacket before they get onto the boat ramp and always wear it on the boat. When you get back to shore, keep your life jacket with you in case you need to retrieve a drifting boat.
    2. Turn off the engine before you jump off a boat to retrieve something and always wear a life jacket. Take something that floats with you when attempting to help someone else.
    3. Learn proper knot tying techniques so your boat doesn’t get loose and drift away.
    4. Remember that your swimming abilities will decrease if you’re not swimming on a regular basis. Even strong swimmers can be overcome by wave action or exhaustion because swimming in natural waters is not like swimming in a pool.
    5. Train others onboard to operate your boat in case of an emergency and keep instructions near the helm to help them do that.

    When the instinct to retrieve something or someone happens, most people don’t think to put on a life jacket before they enter the water. All of these heartbreaking retrieval fatalities could have easily been prevented if the retriever had already been wearing a life jacket. Please wear it and keep boating fun!



    Date Taken: 10.16.2018
    Date Posted: 10.16.2018 13:14
    Story ID: 296614
    Location: US

    Web Views: 28
    Downloads: 0