Experts want to prove boating safety can be fun.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 26-2 will host a family event to promote the joy of boating and common sense on the water at 1 p.m. May 16 at Buster Boyd Access Area. The event kicks off National Safe Boating Week May 16-22.
The event will include free life jackets, loaners and exchanges, tours of fire and police boats, games, knot tying and marine education, vendors and exhibits, free safety checks, and free food and drinks.
“We did it last year at the beginning of National Safe Boating Week,” said Rick Croasdale, vice commander. “We did it in the morning. What we learned is a lot of kids have soccer or baseball in the morning, so this year, we’re having it in the afternoon.”
The Lake Wylie Marine Commission is working with Clover students on a safe boating week project focusing on wearing life jackets.
“We are doing a project with Clover High School with a movie and a video and pictures,” said Commissioner Blanche Bryant. “It is a program that next year we hope to expand to all the high schools in the area the marine commission serves.”
Bryant said people wearing life jackets is a simple step, but one that would go far in overall boating safety.
“We want kids to think about putting on a life jacket the way they think about putting on a seat belt,” she said. “It’s really a pilot program to see if we can get it going.”
Local stores have donated child- and youth-sized life jackets. The Coast Guard Auxiliary will swap them with jackets children have outgrown. Some life jackets will be provided for the loaner boards at Buster Boyd and Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill, where boaters can borrow one for the day.
“The reason we are doing this is to promote safety on the water for our boating community,” Croasdale said. “The vast majority of drownings are due to people not wearing life jackets.”
The upcoming event, while fun, helps fulfill his group’s mission, Croasdale said.
“The primary mission of the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary is protection of life and property on the water and this event is part of that mission,” he said. “Our goal is zero injuries and zero deaths on this lake.”
John Marks • 803-831-8166