Opinion

Safety tips for a fun summer at the lake | Woodmark Hotel Waterfront Adventures

The Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland. - Reporter file photo
The Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

For many of us, summer fun in Kirkland means a lake adventure. As great weather arrives and the lake beckons, we undock our boat, take our WaveRunners for a spin or head to the Woodmark Hotel’s dock for a personal watercraft rental.

To mark the beginning of the boating season, the Woodmark Hotel and the water safety experts at Woodmark Waterfront Adventures have come out with a list of safety tips for watercraft users bound for the lake this summer.

Drowning is listed as the cause of death in more than 70 percent of all boating accidents, according to Coast Guard figures. To Greg Young, a veteran instructor to watersport enthusiasts and owner of Woodmark Waterfront Adventures, the sobering figure should offer reason enough to always wear a properly fitted life jacket while on the water.

“How good a swimmer or knowledgeable of the lake you are, should not come into consideration when deciding to strap your life jacket,” said Young. He points out that the majority of drownings occur after people were projected into the water unexpectedly, giving them no chance to grab and strap their life jacket. “The time to strap on a life jacket is before the engine starts.”

The safest life jacket is one that is comfortable enough to wear at all times while on the water. Fit is very important to comfort. A quick way to check for fit is to lift both arms straight above your head and check that the chest portion of the jacket does not touch your chin when you look sideways over your shoulder. In the case of inflatable life jackets, adjust the retaining strap loosely to allow for inflation of the device.

Once in the boat or personal watercraft, continually scan your surroundings. Evaluate weather conditions and scan for hazards and boats while keeping your eyes open for swimmers or stranded paddlers. Maintain a safe distance from other boats and obey speed laws. The Seattle Harbor Code calls for 7 knots (or 8 mph) on the Lake Washington ship canal, which runs between Lake Washington and Shilshole Bay.

The best way to be aware while driving a watercraft is to remain sober. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities. The legal limit for blood-alcohol content in Washington state while driving a boat is the same as when driving a car, .08. The sun, waves and wind can intensify the effects of alcohol.

“We offer safety tips like these to all of our guests who enjoy water activities along the shores of beautiful Lake Washington,” said Howard Jacobs, general manager of The Woodmark Hotel by Destination Hotels & Resorts. “This initiative, in partnership with Woodmark Waterfront Adventures, allows us to extend these tips to everyone within our community, so we can all enjoy a safe and fun summer.”

For more tips, join Young and his team from Woodmark Waterfront Adventures next Saturday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Woodmark Hotel Bayshore Room during Carillon Point Marina’s BBQ in celebration of National Marina Day. King County Marine Sheriff staff will be conducting an on-site Boater Education class for community members in need of a Safe Boating Card, which every rider born after 1959 and over 14 years of age will need to have when operating a watercraft with a motor of 15 horsepower or more. Coast Guard Auxiliary will also perform Vessel Safety Checks at the event. For more information about the event call 425-822-1700.

Karem Planas does communications for the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland.

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