Sunday, March 2, 2008

Make life vests part of your fishing equipment

Dan Baughman with life vest
For about 30 years now I've worn a life vest whenever I'm fishing. Actually, it's the very same vest! It's still in great shape (I test it out swimming each year) but I think it's time for a new one. I think it cost $30.

When we first had kids we made it a rule that they never get into the boat without their life vests. It just seemed natural that Brenda and I would wear them too.

Since then my life vest has become as natural for me to take fishing as my tackle box. My vest has pockets and I always keep my fishing license in one. My fishing line clippers are attached with a tether cord to another pocket. Others hold sunglasses and bug spray.

Straps at the sides allow me to loosen the vest so I can put it over the heaviest of clothes in the fall and let me snug it in the summer when I'm wearing just a T-shirt. It's camo colored so I can wear it when I'm duck hunting in a canoe.

Many times I've gotten out of the boat at camp and gone to work on some task only to find a half hour later that I'm still wearing my life vest. I only mention this to give some idea of how comfortable it is.

Everyone in our family wears a life vest. All of our staff at Bow Narrows Camp wears a life vest.

Not once have I ever heard any of them complain about how uncomfortable they were. On the contrary, the vests often feel great -- a little insulation against the wind.

We provide life vests for all our guests as part of our regular service. Ontario boating regulations require each person to have a proper-fitting life vest or PFD (personal floatation device) when boating. Unfortunately, regulations do not require you to wear them!

A lot of good it does to have a life vest crammed into the bow of the boat when you hit an unseen log with the boat at top speed and get pitched over the side!

I would say about half our guests wear their vests. Some bring their own because they can then ensure they have one with the most comfortable fit. Good idea! They're not heavy, expensive or hard to pack. You can get them with mesh over the shoulders to be especially comfortable in warm weather. You can even get ones which look like a pair of suspenders that inflate if you are immersed in water.

The ones who don't wear them really BELIEVE the vests are uncomfortable, and believing is seeing as the saying should be known. I wonder if these are the same people who believe seatbelts are uncomfortable?

One little-known fact about drowning might help some of these non-vest-wearers to buckle up. Most people who drown in the North don't do so because they became tired after flailing away in the water for a long time. They inhale water the instant they first go overboard and go into a sudden shock.

If they're wearing a life vest, they're just bobbing safely in the water when they get their wits back in a few seconds.

We want you to have a wonderful vacation with us and we truly wish you would wear your life vests!
Bow Narrows Camp
Red Lake, Ont.

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