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Marine Resources 2022 Salary Survey

When boat swamps on NY's Hudson River, BoatUS Foundation Loaner Life Jackets are on every kid aboard

by Scott Croft 30 Jun 07:49 PDT
In this image of the incident captured by a bystander, rescuers and good Samaritans can be seen (in distant center) rendering aid to the stricken vessel before safely returning all to shore © Liz Feldman

An early June boating incident on New York's Hudson River underscores the critical importance of being able to borrow right-sized kid's life jackets, according to the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

A group of three adults and five children aboard a small bowrider spent some time at a Croton Point Park beach, an anchorage popular with boaters. As the vessel rounded Croton Point on the way home, wind-driven waves combined with the wake of a passing commercial vessel entered the vessel over the bow, quickly swamping the boat. Everyone aboard was immediately up to their waists in water.

Before departing that day, the boat's owner, Barbara Ann Benson, who had 27 years of boating experience, stopped to borrow five children's life jackets from a nearby BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water Kids Life Jacket Loaner site at Ossining Boat & Canoe Club (OBCC) in Ossining. The BoatUS Foundation is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit boating safety arm of BoatUS and offers 593 locations across the United States where boaters who may have young guests aboard can borrow child-sized life jackets for the day or weekend at no cost. Loaner sites are typically located at local marine businesses, marinas, firehouses, and community boat and yacht clubs. OBCC has been a host of the BoatUS Foundation's free life jacket loaner program for nearly 30 years.

Cellphone communication with local law enforcement and rescue flares summoned police and fire rescuers as well as good Samaritans. The eight aboard from two families were all safely returned to shore, and the boat was recovered. The boat's internal floatation had kept the boat floating upright.

Benson said, "I'm so thankful for the BoatUS Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program. I knew I was going to have some young guests aboard that day, and I didn't have any of the right-sized life jackets to fit them, so I made sure to swing by the loaner site at OBCC to get the sizes needed for each child. That afternoon was very stressful time for me as it all happened so quickly, but just knowing that everyone was wearing a properly fitted life jacket helped us get through the emergency and be able to talk about it."

The BoatUS Foundation cautions boaters that children can easily slip out of an adult size or improperly fitted life jacket. A video on how to properly fit a kid's life jacket can be found at BoatUS.org/Life-Jacket-Loaner/Fit-Video.

More on the Foundation's Life Jacket Loaner Program, including a map of locations, can be found at BoatUS.org/LJLP.

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