At the beach at Cape Canaveral, nineteen-year-old Josh Scurlock looks out at the water. The larger than normal waves look rough but not too rough so he and a friend go out in them to play. A strong swimmer – Josh loves the ocean and his new Florida home just five blocks from the beach. It’s Saturday and the sun is out and there is no school and nothing at all is wrong in the world.Having recently moved to Florida from Indiana, he doesn’t notice – or even know how to notice – the rip current that will sweep him out to sea and away from his friend. Once caught in its pull, his instincts are to head back in. The land is where safe is and something is pulling him away from it so he fights. Swimming as hard as he can for as long as he can – with his friend on the beach now yelling for help – Josh Scurlock tires and drowns. And though a heroic surfer eventually makes it to him and brings him to shore – he cannot be revived. Josh never sees twenty. The U.S. Lifesaving Association says a story like that will happen over a hundred times this year on U.S. beaches. My hope – and of that Josh’s mother, Dawn – is that they will be wrong. By knowing what to look for, where to swim, and how to escape one should you get caught in a rip current, your summer will be a safer one. […]
One of my readers was kind enough to translate "Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning" into Spanish. Thank you, Arturo! http://www.alchilazo.net/2010/07/el-que-se-ahoga-no-parece-ahogarse.html
The best place for boaters to be when heavy weather strikes is back at the marina – but weather changes can happen fast, the unexpected can extend your voyage, and in the middle of your first bad patch of sea is not the time or place to learn how to handle things in rough water.
There is simply no way to imagine that the Sunderland's decision to allow their sixteen-year-old daughter (and seventeen-year-old son before her) to venture out to sea alone was not influenced by the modern EPIRB. She was carrying two of them aboard. "Radio's - check; SATCOM - check; Way to pinpoint your location and call for help if things go wrong? - check and check." The electronic "Time-Out" button provides a LOT of comfort to all of us who go to sea and I'm certainly not complaining; again, I love the things. However, mariners need to address the growing and unspoken trend to rely on these devices as a replacement for an abundance of caution and judgment.
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As a veteran helicopter rescue swimmer and now a marine safety specialist for the United States Coast Guard, I’ve seen a lot of boating trips gone wrong. Accidents are accidents, but after twelve years on the job, I’ve noticed that most of the emergencies we respond to are easy to avoid. With a little additional planning and preparation, you can dramatically decrease your chances of ever having to call for help. Consider the following before your next trip and we’ll probably never meet. Remember where you’re going: Remember that “offshore” means “isolated in a hostile environment.” Keeping that in mind changes the way you think about everything else. Your passengers: Do they have any medical conditions? Are they adequate swimmers? What is their boating experience? The answers make a big difference, but you have to ask the questions first. Life-saving drugs like asthma, heart, allergy meds, and insulin come along for the ride, or those who need them don’t. Period. […]
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