Our Northwest

Whether a ‘Phelps’ or a flailer, few swimmers don life jackets

Friday, August 26, 2016by  Derek Wing


Confidence is a great thing. Until it isn’t. And nowhere is that more true than on our Northwest coastlines, lakes, and rivers.

A recent PEMCO Poll showed that 54% of Northwesterners rely on their (perceived) swimming prowess rather than a life jacket to stay safe when they’re playing in area waterways.

What’s more, 41% admit to drinking something stronger than H2O when enjoying a day on the water – a combination that the U.S. Coast Guard warns can lead to tragedy, considering that in 85% of (often alcohol-fueled) boating-accident fatalities, victims aren’t wearing life jackets.

These last few weeks of summer are no time to let down your guard when it comes to water safety. As a fledgling swimmer myself (who is not yet among the nine out of 10 Northwesterners who claims to be at least a “fair” swimmer), I’ll be urging my family to stick to designated swimming areas, use the buddy system, and watch for signs of weakness and fatigue that can point to a swimmer in distress. And will they be wearing life jackets? You bet!

Read full results of the poll of 1,200 Washington and Oregon residents by Seattle’s FBK Research. Or, check out these at-a-glance charts to see how your water wisdom compares with your Northwest neighbors’.

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