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5 reasons why everyone should wear a lifejacket

Know your breaststroke from your front crawl? Think you’d be fine if you found yourself unexpectedly swimming in open water? 

Every year, even great swimmers drown. A Red Cross research report for 2011-2015 shows that, of swimming victims five years and older, 12% were reported as strong swimmers, 14% as average/intermediate, and 17% as having weak swimming ability (swimming ability was not specified for 43%, and unknown for 14%).

Web-FB-life-jacket-(1).jpgHere’s a few reasons why everyone, even strong swimmers, need to wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD).

1.    You’re up against strong currents

Swimming against a strong tide exhausts the best of swimmers (and if you get caught in a rip current, it’s pretty much impossible to swim against it, so don’t try!)

Many lakes, rivers and oceans might seem to have calm conditions, but it’s actually hard to tell from the surface how strong the current below is. If you end up in a strong current, your lifejacket or PFD will keep you at the surface of the water and can save your life.

2.    The water is f-f-f-freezing

Remember the ice bucket challenge? An unexpected plunge into frigid water can literally take your breath away. The initial shock of freezing water on your skin triggers a physiological response which can include hyperventilation and panic. And now that you’re gasping for air, you’re more likely to breathe in water.

A lifejacket or PFD will help keep you at the surface of the water for rescue, so remember to be careful and wear it!

3.    Waterlogged clothing is heavy

You might be a great swimmer usually, but then there’s swimming with a jacket and shoes on. Soaked clothing is much heavier – note taking it out of the washing machine! That weight drags your arms and legs down when swimming. Don’t take the risk – stay at the surface of the water by wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

4.    You’re unconscious

It’s not a pleasant thought at all, but if you unexpectedly end up in the drink – like being hit with a freak wave, running into another boat (eek!), or leaning too far over the side of a boat (when you’re reeling in that big fish!) – you might hit your head on the way in. 

If you’re unconscious in the water, your lifejacket or PFD will help you stay above water.  So if you’re out boating, always wear one!

5.    The water conditions quickly change

So, you’re out on the water and it’s a sunny, still morning... but where did those clouds on the horizon come from? 

Wind and waves are a real hazard to anyone near the water, especially when the weather turns suddenly. You should always check the weather in advance, as well as monitor weather conditions for change. 

Needless to say, having a lifejacket or PFD on is essential for those unexpected weather events. Leaving it in the garage at home, or in the boat storage compartment won’t help you when the weather changes.

Lifejackets and PFDs are like seat belts – they only work if you wear them, and wear them properly. Find more water safety tips here.
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