LeBlanc: Three tips for Fourth of July boaters

Here we are with Fourth of July staring us in the face one more time and the weather people claim it is going to be a hot one. About all I have to say concerning that is they will probably be correct. After all, why should it be any different than any other year? If you monitor the real temperature and listen to your body by keeping hydrated and keep putting on the sunscreen, you should be fine playing outside.

Now a note to the folks who may have recently moved to Texas from some frozen north land, or work in a nice cool office, sitting staring at a computer or doing other such sedentary tasks, you need to watch for heatstroke.

For those who do not know, heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, which can result from prolonged exposure to the sun, or physical exertion in high temperatures. Bottom line, use your head, and alcohol will speed up dehydration so stick to water or one of the sport drinks to keep hydrated.

Texans will be getting out on the water from now through Labor Day and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) urges boaters and paddlers who enjoy water recreation this summer to do their part to fight back against aquatic invasive species that threaten Texas lakes.

Everyone knows they must avoid giving free rides to invasive species by helping them travel to new lakes, it’s the law.

Transporting prohibited aquatic invasive species in Texas is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation. Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles, including bait buckets, before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water and to immediately remove all invasive plants from the boat, trailer, and tow vehicle before leaving a lake.

Moving on to another water bound topic, it is not unusual to see folks taking their dog with them just about everywhere they go. My wife and I have always had dogs and they become another family member. Therefore if you keep your eyes open while on the lake it is not unusual to see dogs on boats of all kind. They are good company but if one jumps or falls out of a boat and into the water you can have a big problem trying to get it safely back in the boat.

Even dogs that are bred to swim can struggle if tired or the water is rough. I would strongly recommend a dog life vest for keeping pets safe whenever they’re on a boat, canoe, or kayak with their human companions. The ones I am most familiar with are made by Bombora and they have been making really comfortable personal flotation devices for people and now also life vests for dogs.

For our canine family members they are available in four sizes to fit pets up to 90 pounds and are designed for all-day comfort. EPE layered and segmented foam forms around the body while amply-sized leg holes provide even short-legged breeds the ability to paddle unrestricted Three Delrin quick-release buckles adjust and allow PFDs to be put on and taken off quickly

The dog life vest are covered in a soft, yet durable, polyester fabric,and have an integrated D-ring leash attachment and reinforced grab handle. They also have built-in side pockets that are ideal for storing treats and leads. So, if you have a dog in your family that like boat rides you might consider looking online for what Bombora has for your dog.

Now I would like to address Engine Cut Off Switches that are required on most outboard and stern drive powered boats.

There are four common locations on the captain’s body to attach an ECOS lanyard. If one doesn’t work for your kind of boating, try another. Wrist-worn lanyards that have a quick-adjust hook-and-loop strap are commonly used on personal watercraft and may also work well at the helm of a powerboat. Life jackets often have a plastic ring to connect a lanyard clip, while pant belt loops are also convenient, and since that location is lower on the body, it may be less prone to snagging. Some boaters prefer attaching it even lower and secure the ECOS lanyard around a thigh or ankle. Just use caution to not overstretch the lanyard.

According to the American Boat & Yacht Council, typical ECOS lanyards are 48 to 72 inches when fully extended. It’s OK to adjust the lanyard length based on boat configuration and operator location. It’s a balance in finding freedom of movement and ensuring it won’t wrap around something or get snagged.

Some ECOS devices eliminate the lanyard and rely on wireless proximity devices to shut down an engine if the operator goes overboard. While these wireless ECOS, typically worn as a bracelet or fob, cost more and require more care, they may be the easiest to wear for some boaters. Fobs can also be attached to a lanyard and worn around the neck, placed in a pocket or clipped to a belt or life jacket.

No matter which kind of ECOS used, boaters need to learn how to bypass, rearm or reset an ECOS quickly in the event of an activation. Read the manual and practice at the dock.

When you take friends out, tell them how the ECOS works and the rapid deceleration by ECOS activation.

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