West Seattle Blog… | SUMMER: How to keep yourself safe in the water – and how to help someone else who might be in danger

(WSB photo from a 2019 water-rescue callout)

Summer weather is finally about to arrive, and with it, more people will be out on the water. That makes this prime time for reminders. First one is from the WSB inbox, sent by jay:

It’s drowning season. The weather is nice and people both new and experienced are going out to Alki on paddleboards and kayaks not appreciating how cold the water is.

At a bare minimum the safety gear is a life jacket and a leash for paddleboards. A wetsuit, even a thin one, is helpful as well (dress for the water, not the air). A whistle can get people’s attention when you have a problem.

But life jackets don’t look cool in Instagram photos, and a lot of people think the water is just cold and not as dangerously cold as it really is. Or they get overconfident.

(A day before emailing) I rescued a paddleboarder who had been in the water more than five minutes and had given up trying to get back on the board. If it weren’t for a beachgoer who had seen her fall in and called my attention, there’s a good chance she would have died. She had no life jacket and no leash.

There were a dozen paddleboarders out when I was paddling and zero of them besides me had a lifejacket or leash on their ankle.

Second reminder is from the Seattle Fire Department – how best to help them help someone in trouble in the water, whether you’re helping from land or from a boat. Read SFD’s advice/recommendations here.