Monday, July 19, 2010

Wear a Life Jacket Like You Do Your Seat Belt

Maybe I've just had the local news on more in the last few days, but there seem to be quite a few boating or jet ski accidents here in Middle Tennessee, which resulted in a few deaths. Such terribly sad news. I just feel horrible for the families who sat by the side of the lake waiting for news from officials about loved ones. All they could do was wait.

I just heard the story this morning about a guy and gal on a jet ski on Old Hickory Lake (the lake right by my house). It overturned. The girl survived; she was wearing a life jacket. The man never surfaced; he was not. I don't know their circumstances; I don't know why he wasn't wearing a life jacket. But I'm reminded again why I do. Because you just never what's going to happen. Accidents happen.

I think jet skis are taken for granted. They seem so easy to handle and simple to use but you can be tossed off one quickly and unexpectedly. I know how hard I ride jet skis and I see how hard my brother rides them - anything could happen to either of us.

I've been unexpectedly thrown from my brother's jet ski while he was driving. It was May in Lake Michigan and I landed in 50-degree water. He had a wet suit on; I did not. My body went into complete shock upon hitting that water. I couldn't breath and everything went numb. It was not a serious accident but it happened so quickly and my body reacted instantly to that cold water, I hate to think what my situation might have been if I left the life jacket on shore.

My brother and I were chatting about it today and he said, "Yeah, whenever I'm about to do something stupid, I think about how E Anne and Ava [his daughters and my nieces] would feel when they are old enough to comprehend how I died and how stupid it really driving without a seat belt or not wearing a life jacket on the lake or climbing a ladder with a chainsaw (gas-powered and running). I just don't want to be 'that guy' who orphans his kids by being a dumba**. I can't have them sitting with their mom in a Great Shakes somewhere and have people stand up and yell, 'Shame!' at them. What a disgrace that would be!" OK, he might have gotten a little dramatic there but it's a fair point. Even if you think you handle some unexpected situation, think about those on shore or in the backseat in case that one time, that accident comes your way.

I remember when my parents would put us in a canoe in some Michigan river or on a lake to go fishing and we'd have to wear those gosh-awful-looking orange U-shaped life jackets. Now, they kinda look retro but not a real fashion statement. Today, life jackets fit much better and come in all colors and patterns. They might not be high fashion though you might be able to match your jacket with your bathing suit, if you really needed to. So, if you think it's not going to happen to you, or the life jacket somehow crimps your coolness factor, get over it. Accidents happen. Wear the jacket.

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