Labor Day water safety: having the appropriate life vest

Wearing the appropriate life vest for the activity is important.
Wearing the appropriate life vest for the activity is important.(wwbt)
Published: Sep. 3, 2023 at 6:12 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - During the Labor Day holiday weekend, many people spend it on the water with activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, tubing etc., which can turn dangerous fast.

A boating safety coordinator with the Virginia Department of Wildlife and Resources said everyone should wear a life vest while participating in activities like that. A variety of life vests are available, so you need to make sure you get the right one for what you’re doing, and they should be Coast Guard approved.

“You want to make sure that’s going to float no matter what, so maybe if you lose consciousness or break an arm and can’t tread water, it’s going to keep you afloat,” that boating safety coordinator, Mitch Furr.

Once you know what type of life vest is needed - you’ve got to get the right size. If it’s too small, it may not keep you above water, and if it’s too big - it could slip off and get in the way of your ability to swim... creating a greater risk of drowning.

For children, please don’t use the same floaties used for the pool, the type that goes around the front of a child and their arms.

“They’re great for pool use but are not intended for use on a boat; almost never are they Coast Guard approved,” Furr said.

Furr told NBC12 that it’s common for water safety accidents to happen on holiday weekends; he said a lot of the time, it’s with people paddle boarding.

“Usually on weekends like this, we generally, unfortunately, we see a lot of accidents on stand-up paddle boards that fall in; they can’t swim and get separated from their standup paddleboard and unfortunately fall victim to drowning,” Furr said.

Furr said to make you drink Gatorade or Pedialyte in addition to water - so you get those electrolytes because Furr said it is possible to become too hydrated - which could lead to a medical emergency.