Everyone Needs to Follow the Rules

Sadly, two more young men have died on Lake Michigan this past week.  I don’t know these men personally and I don’t know their story, but what I do know is that they both broke all three simple rules that I have written about in past blogs and have discussed in other articles on this website.

  1.  Always wear your life jacket (PFD)!
  2. Always dress for the water temperature (that means a wetsuit or drysuit when the water is 43°F as it is right now)!
  3. Never paddle a recreational kayak on large bodies of water (like Lake Michigan)!

Had these two men followed even one of the three rules above, there is a chance that they might have been saved since they were being observed from shore and emergency help was summoned quickly.

I received a shipment of kayaks this morning for my upcoming summer programs.  Attached to each one was a small pamphlet from the American Canoe Association and the US Coast Guard urging people to “Be Smart, Be Safe, Have Fun”I don’t know where the two young men got the kayaks that they were using when they died, but there is a possibility that information about these 3 rules was attached to the boats when they were purchased.  Tragically, someone wasn’t paying attention.

If you have purchased a recreational kayak, read those safety pamphlets that are attached.  It won’t take much time and there is important information that you may not be aware of.  Don’t assume you know it all.  If you let someone else use your boat, make sure that they are aware of these rules, as well, so that they don’t put themselves at risk unknowingly.

Two families are grieving over a tragedy that didn’t have to happen.


4 thoughts on “Everyone Needs to Follow the Rules”

    1. Thank you for sharing this story. These kayak fatalities have sharply increased since there are more inexpensive recreational kayaks being sold at stores other than paddling shops. The problem is greater up here in the north where our water gets really cold over the winter and takes longer to warm up in the spring. Especially young men don’t seem to appreciate the risks associated with using these small boats in cold, choppy water with no life jacket or immersion clothing. There have been attempts made to get the message out to inexperienced kayakers, but it seems like the people who most need to hear this information are the ones least likely to read the warning labels. I personally don’t want to see it come to required certification or licensing to use kayaks because it will discourage many people who do use these craft safely but who may not be able to afford a lot of additional certification costs. If anyone has friends or family that paddle, please share this message about wearing a life jacket and not paddling on big lakes or cold water without the correct equipment.

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