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Saginaw Man’s Brush with Death Offers Lessons in Boating Safety

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A 61-year-old Saginaw man had planned a fun summer getaway: he was going to kayak from Michigan State University to Grand Rapids. He was barely on his way when his plans soon took a turn for the worse when his kayak flipped over in the Red Cedar River. Luckily, prior to starting his journey, he was wise enough to place his cell phone in a plastic bag. This move saved his life, as he was able to call 911 from his cell phone, which allowed authorities to locate him—he was lodged in some branches in a section of river near Aurelius and Mt. Hope roads.

However, not all boaters are so lucky, says the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. In fact, boating deaths reached a six-year high in 2008 with 36 deaths—up from 35 in the previous year. Since boating is a popular summer activity, it is important to keep the following safety tips to keep in mind:

  • · Wear a life jacket.
  • · Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • · Complete a boating safety course, no matter what your age.
  • · Be especially careful on personal watercraft.
  • · Don’t overload your boat.
  • · Have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the boat operator.
  • · Operate at a safe speed.
  • · Look out for low water levels or submerged objects.

The Michigan State Police also warn that you should not jump in after someone to save them from drowning—that should always remain a last resort. In fact, both people may end up drowning because we aren’t aware of our limitations and the exhaustion that quickly sets in when trying to hold someone up. However, the MSU Police do recommend putting your cell phone in a plastic bag—it could save your life, the same way it saved this man’s life.

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  1. Nicki says:
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    Your article was a bit misleading and incorrect. There were 36 boating deaths up “from” 35 not “by” 35. And while even one is too many – boaters in Michigan should be commended for their safety record.

    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR) reports show that through the years, boating accidents and fatalities in Michigan have declined steadily as boat registrations in this state have increased dramatically. There were 36 boating related fatalities in 2008 and according to the April, 2009, Secretary of State report, 927,914 registered boats on file (1 out of every 25,775 boaters) compared to 88 boating related fatalities in Michigan in 1967 with 385,124 registered boats on file (when 1 out of every 4,376 boaters). Boating is a safe, fun, and smart recreational choice that brings families together and takes away the stresses of everyday life.