OUTDOORS: Memorial Day is past, but stay safe on the water all summer
One of the biggest boating weekends of the year is Memorial Day weekend, which is now behind us. It is the unofficial opening for the boating season in the great state of Texas for the summer.
Folks thrill as the wind blows through their hair, if they are so endowed, while skimming across the surface of the water enjoying that indescribable feeling of freedom brought about by such events made possible by our modern aquatic toys.
While playing on the water it is important to remember that water can be a stern mistress when we humans get a little sloppy in the safety department. A lot of folks do not stop and think how hard and unforgiving water can be when you hit the surface at a high rate of speed.
Normally if a person falls out of a boat, off of water skis, or a jet ski at 40 or more miles per hour they soon find it is not like jumping off of a dock or the front deck of a stationary boat where the water will offer a wet, refreshing cushion to engulf and cool you as you descend and then slowly raises you gently back to the surface. Instead it is very similar to hitting a hard slick surface that doesn’t give and insists you bounce very unattractively across the surface, extremities askew, until sufficient speed has been bled off allowing you to break the surface tension of the water and sink. Hence the necessity of always wearing a life jacket when your boat is in motion.
Every one of us wants our water sports experiences to be all of the fun they can be, but potential danger is always around that environment, so we must be ever vigilant.
We have all heard the old and worn saying that speed kills. It may be old and tired, but it hold true for aquatic sports just like those on dry land. If you hit a dam, bridge pylon, debris, or another boat at high speed, it matters not the reason, something is going to break. There are no seat belts or air bags in a boat and the occupants will surely end up thrown from the vehicle and, at best, probably stunned. When wearing an appropriate life jacket you will float with your face out of the water and that will at least stop you from drowning. If not, one could easily become another drowning statistic in the hall of records.
I would like to touch upon a couple other items that are simple but I feel need to stress and that is concerning water skiers down in the water.
Every boater should know that when a flag is seen flying from a boat that a water skier is down in the water. It also means for any other boats in the area pass wide of the stopped boat and keep a sharp eye out for anyone in the water. When a person is in the water they are not easy to see. A bright orange life jacket helps, but usually all we see is a head sticking out of the water. When in doubt slow down and keep your eyes and attention focused on the area around the downed skier as there may be more than one.
If you happen to be pulling a skier you need someone watching the skier. Even if you have the approved rear view mirror it is still best for the driver of the boat to concentrate on driving the boat and the rest of the lake traffic and another person watch the person being towed. That is the safest course of action.
Jet skis, wave runners or whatever you wish to call them are a load of fun. Like a loaded firearm, they are completely harmless until a human being is added to the equation. Then there is a potential problem.
A great deal of the problem with this watercraft can be attributed directly to pure selfishness of some operators. They are going to run wide open throttles no matter how many other boaters are on the lake. They are going to have fun if it kills them, or someone else. So when you see one of these irresponsible people the only thing a person can do is to try to stay out of the way. If they are too blatant then it is time to call the law and have the offender seen to by the officials for the safety of everyone on the lake.
Another area that I would like to address that can really affect your aquatic outing is sunburn and there two ways that can help with prevention of sunburn, and they are adequate sunscreen or cloth covering. Which ever you choose it is always good to wear a hat that not only covers your head but also protects your ears.
Sun screen is available at almost any retail establishment in the state. Sunburn has been proven to cause long term damage to ones skin. It can cause the appearance of premature aging of the skin. Worst of all it can cause the development of skin cancer farther on down the road of time. Remember, with all of the sun screen products on the market there is absolutely no reason for anyone to get sunburned in the summer of 2021.