Boaters, tubers share in safety
Bodies of water can be dangerous, as so many stories across the country illustrate.
A six-year-old was rescued from an overturned boat in Saskatchewan Wednesday, but his grandfather died in the accident. Neither were wearing life jackets and the child was treated for exposure and hypothermia.
Not so common are stories like the one in Kamloops last weekend in which three women floating on tubes allege they were run over by a speedboat on the South Thompson River.
As the incident is still under investigation by RCMP, we're not going to speculate who might be at fault. The three women say their injuries tell all that needs to be said while eight or so people in the speedboat told police the driver just missed hitting the women.
The point we'd like to make is that sharing the waterways is ultimately a dual responsibility. Just as pedestrians can't assume drivers will always see them, tubers can't expect boaters will be looking out for their best interests, either.
Also similar to vehicles, motorboats can't turn on a dime, so it's up to swimmers or tubers to look out for themselves.
It's a rule of the waterways that boaters navigating larger crafts slow down and take extra caution in areas where people are swimming or tubing, or when close to those in smaller watercraft like canoes or kayaks.
But tubers also have to keep their wits about them and can take some measures themselves to ensure their float is a safe one.
- Put on a life jacket. There are unseen hazards in the water - logs, strong currents, undertows - that can leave even a strong swimmer helpless.
- Wear shoes for better footing when entering and exiting the water.
- Carry a whistle to make some noise should a boat be approaching with a driver that doesn't appear to see you.
- Avoid alcohol. Not only does it dehydrate you and make you more susceptible to heat stroke, but slows your response time should something go wrong. At the least, have a designated floater who opts to limit or not drink so as to look out for the rest.
As we said before, we're not suggesting the fault lies with the tubers in last weekend's accident, but want others floating on local lakes and rivers to do all they can to stay safe.