Author Topic: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings  (Read 3106 times)

bing

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Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« on: July 29, 2019, 08:55:36 PM »
The Seattle Times published an article today about three recent drownings in the state of Washington.  Really sad - no leash or PFD.  The article never mentions the use of a leash for safety and only focuses on PFD usage.  It did make some good points on educating users.

Seattle Times published an article today on the recent three drownings in the state of Washington this year during stand up paddling.  None of the paddlers were wearing or pfd or leash.  Really too bad.  https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/life-jacket-lottery-3-have-drowned-while-paddleboarding-this-year-in-western-washington/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TSA_072919232008+Paddleboarding-related+deaths+are+increasing.+Here%27s+how+to+stay+safe_7_29_2019&utm_term=Active%20subscriber 

TallDude

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 10:46:20 PM »
I was just at Lake Tahoe visiting friends that live there. Their son works at a sup and kayak rental company located at various beach locations. It was very windy one morning and he said they have learned to just not rent SUP's when there is stronger wind. They end up having to retrieve customers who've been blown out into the lake and can't get back. The kayaks do fine in high wind conditions so they will almost always rent those. They all have to wear life jackets and leashes.

Windwarrior

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 06:24:26 AM »
This doesn't surprise me one bit. When I lived out in Seattle (12 years) I was an organizer in the largest kayaking group in the state and when I organized paddle trips through the meetup group I was floored that some of the rental shops didn't even offer the basics such as an inflatable float and pump for self rescuing.

One of the very first things I would do when posting for any outings was PREPARE TO GET WET because we're going to do self rescuing exercises. I loved teaching people that simple task. We all had a great time splashing around in the process.

I'm a firm believer that companies should be offering those simple tools at the very least.

As for paddleboarding, pfd's are uncomfortable? Perhaps but it's far better than going to a funeral.
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robon

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 06:41:37 AM »
I was just at Lake Tahoe visiting friends that live there. Their son works at a sup and kayak rental company located at various beach locations. It was very windy one morning and he said they have learned to just not rent SUP's when there is stronger wind. They end up having to retrieve customers who've been blown out into the lake and can't get back. The kayaks do fine in high wind conditions so they will almost always rent those. They all have to wear life jackets and leashes.

Kayaks generally do better in higher wind situations getting back, but there has been a few kayakers who have had to be rescued already on one of the local lakes this month. Had these capsizing occurred on the main lake in one of the more remote parts, it could have been fatal as the water was still cool but I believe the kayakers all had their PFDs on.  It's not just getting back against head winds, but capsizing in the waves and mixed up conditions that makes getting back in your boat for beginner to intermediate paddlers challenging.

https://thenelsondaily.com/news/good-samaritans-assist-water-rescue-kootenay-lake

"South Columbia Search and Rescue was tasked out early yesterday morning for a missing person who was canoeing on Kootenay Lake. The weather was extreme and the subject was tossed around quite a bit and at one point flipped over. The subject however ended up being on a kayak. A witness pressed sos on their emergency beacon and a helicopter over head fighting fires witnessed the watercraft upside down'


https://www.bclocalnews.com/news/searchers-called-to-help-kootenay-lake-boaters/
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 06:47:17 AM by robon »

Windwarrior

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 06:48:22 AM »
I was just at Lake Tahoe visiting friends that live there. Their son works at a sup and kayak rental company located at various beach locations. It was very windy one morning and he said they have learned to just not rent SUP's when there is stronger wind. They end up having to retrieve customers who've been blown out into the lake and can't get back. The kayaks do fine in high wind conditions so they will almost always rent those. They all have to wear life jackets and leashes.

As for Tahoe, I lived there for 4 years and one thing that stood out for me was one company that refused to rent sit inside kayaks unless the person was well versed in self rescue. It wasn't as simple as ", well , yeah I know how" it was nooooo, you need to tell me the steps or you're not getting in one of mine. However,  you CAN rent a sit on top. I applauded him for that. He was a customer of mine and he and his wife owned that shop on south shore along with another shop in the Bahamas. They hadn't seen a winter in a decade! Great folks! Good morals. Considering they can always just take the money.
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unsunken

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 04:15:29 PM »
This is sadly unsurprising. I've only been SUPing in Seattle for the last 4 years but even in that time it's exploded. iSUPs have gotten so popular due to their low cost, easy storage in city apartments and small homes, and quick access to water from nearly anywhere in the city. I've seen many people without PFDs and some without leashes. Most of them don't get too far from shore though.

I had my own close call early on when I flipped my iSUP. My PFD was strapped to the bungees and now underwater. The bottom, now facing the sky, was too slippery to hold onto and I struggled to right it. Fortunately it was calm water, I was goofing around when I jumped off it and it flipped, so eventually I figured out that I needed to flip it from the end and not try to get on top and across it. I learned my lesson but not everyone gets that chance. I'm glad they're trying to educate users more.

pdxmike

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 08:27:12 PM »
Of course it's bad about people buying or renting boards from places that don't even mention pfds or leashes, and everyone knows how idiotic the Coast Guard rules are.


I chewed out Costco a couple years ago for selling a kids' board that actually had a bungee strap at the back with the words, "STORE PFD HERE" printed on the board.  I told them when a kid drowns with their pfd strapped right where the board that Costco sold them said to store the pfd, they'll get sued, as they should be.  I never saw that board sold again.


But what gets me the most is that it's as if people have forgot that the skill of swimming even exists.  As the article illustrates, all the focus is on pfds, and swimming is almost never even mentioned.  I wrote to the American Canoe Association a couple years ago also, when they rolled out a huge safety campaign for standup, and again, all the focus was on pfds (and maybe leashes) but "Do I know how to swim?"  wasn't even mentioned in their "Am I prepared to standup paddle?" checklist.  I got a bureaucratic, snotty (as I recall) reply.


Very few standup drownings are in extreme conditions.  Most are people drowning in summer in mild conditions, with no special complications such as heart attacks, cold water shock, sudden weather changes, etc.  I'd guess almost every victim would be alive if they were competent swimmers.  But it's hard to know when news reports and authorities don't even mention swimming.  I wonder if authorities even ask if the victims knew how to swim.




robon

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2019, 08:51:04 PM »
I would agree with you in stating that most SUP deaths don't occur in extreme conditions but I do remember multiple deaths did occur in 2016 and 2017 when paddlers were swept off their boards due to strong wind, current and waves. There was the Lake Tahoe death when a young, fit man who apparently had experience paddling, got caught with his friends in powerful waves and wind, and they could not make it back to shore, getting swept out.

There was also a mother on a reservoir who died when a thunderstorm moved in quickly, and I remember the article stating 4-6 foot waves occurred as a result. I completely agree that being able to swim well is important, but not wearing a PFD is a primary contributing factor man to these and most SUP deaths, and a decent swimmer may still have died and it doesn't take long to drown when you are swallowing water in waves that are 3-6 feet high. More than one death occurred as a result of entanglement resulting from tidal currents pushing paddlers into buoys, boats, and barriers as well. Not sure how well a PFD would have helped in these entanglement situations.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 09:00:34 PM by robon »

pdxmike

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2019, 11:10:35 AM »
I would agree with you in stating that most SUP deaths don't occur in extreme conditions but I do remember multiple deaths did occur in 2016 and 2017 when paddlers were swept off their boards due to strong wind, current and waves. There was the Lake Tahoe death when a young, fit man who apparently had experience paddling, got caught with his friends in powerful waves and wind, and they could not make it back to shore, getting swept out.

There was also a mother on a reservoir who died when a thunderstorm moved in quickly, and I remember the article stating 4-6 foot waves occurred as a result. I completely agree that being able to swim well is important, but not wearing a PFD is a primary contributing factor man to these and most SUP deaths, and a decent swimmer may still have died and it doesn't take long to drown when you are swallowing water in waves that are 3-6 feet high. More than one death occurred as a result of entanglement resulting from tidal currents pushing paddlers into buoys, boats, and barriers as well. Not sure how well a PFD would have helped in these entanglement situations.
Yes, I agree, those kinds of cases also occur, and I'm also not saying swimming is a substitute for not having a pfd. 


In rough conditions, even a strong swimmer is better off with a pfd (assuming they're not able to get to their board).  But as far as not having a pfd being a contributing factor in MOST SUP deaths, it's not a straightforward answer.  You could say that just about every SUP drowning in mild conditions would have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a pfd (and I agree with that).  But I also think that a strong majority of those victims, who drowned without wearing a pfd, would be alive if they were competent swimmers.


The main point is I don't think anyone should be paddling (or doing anything in the water, except learning to swim) who can't swim well, and the focus on pfds with no thought to swimming ability is bad.  When people see a safety campaign with "Wear your pfd" that doesn't mention "also know how to swim", the message people get is that you're safe in the water even if you can't swim, which is a bad message.  And the other message is that if you're NOT wearing a pfd, you're not safe, which also isn't true.  So we end up with silly requirements mandating pfds for swimming in some lakes and rivers.




surfcowboy

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2019, 08:09:48 PM »
Man we love to talk about this stuff. ;)

Take the energy of writing here and comment on that story and maybe send them a well thought out email (there are several here now in fact.)

Mike spoke to someone and they seemed to change their actions. We can bring this up and hash it out and share stories here and that’s all well and good. But I’d offer that one good email could save more people than 50 posts here where folks can swim, wear leashes, and even sometimes a PFD

These are great threads, very helpful. But there’s been a ton. Let’s draft up an official zone statement on this subject, we have consensus. We can make it into a newbie FAQ and we can all quickly email it out to stupid media outlets when they do this. Hell, one of those last bastards just might google it and find it.

The next time someone shares a story like this, link up the contact and comment area and we can all cut and paste that email statement and I’ll bet they run a retraction or edit the story.

Let’s change something.

eastbound

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2019, 08:23:54 AM »
cowbot makes a good point--we KNOW what it takes to have fewer folk die--we discuss often--why not put our ideas in frt of the largely ignorant entities that impose regulation?

id help with drafting if anyone wants to take the lead--send me an outline, a few clips of what needs be said, ill write up a draft and you guys can edit the hell out of it, and we'll have a letter/statement/piece of text that states our POV for any number of applications

this assumes we'll agree on what needs be said

oh. and ill attempt to use caps and normal grammar!!
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bing

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2019, 07:56:40 PM »
Really good points - I would be happy to send it to the Seattle times too.

gcs

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2019, 10:19:25 AM »
Leash and PFD.  Every time.  Like most I have the belt inflatable.  I do do a lot of solo paddling.  Would probably be the most prudent to wear a real pfd in case you ever hit your head on the board and get knocked out.  Like most I take that risk for comfort.  Most drownings are when board gets away and wind moves it faster than most swimmers. That's why the coastguard reg of pfd attached to the board makes not that much sense.  A good leash is better than a lashed pfd.   I'd worry sick if I was in the rental business.

nalu-sup

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2019, 01:09:36 PM »
I completely agree with the posts on this thread that suggested we should be voicing our thoughts on this subject to those outside this forum. For better or worse, these posts inspired me to send a letter, both to the Seattle Times, and to the author of the article. Someone mentioned drafting a letter that others could use, who are not inspired to write long letters. I am attaching the letter that I sent, so that anyone interested can use it as a starting template if they choose, that they can then edit to their own beliefs and opinions. Though I did mention a national forum in my letter, I was careful not to mention the Zone, so that I would not be claiming my opinions to be those of everyone on the forum, which I am sure they are not.

Here is the letter that I sent:
"As someone who paddles SUPs (stand up paddleboards) on a regular basis in a wide range of conditions, I would like to offer some well meaning feedback on your recent article in the Seattle Times regarding paddleboarding and life jackets. Your article attracted a lot of attention on the primary national SUP forum, and there is a strong consensus that, while the article makes some valid points, it misses the most important issues.

While life jackets can play a valid role in some situations, the real key to safety in SUPing is wearing an ankle leash that attaches the board to the paddler. The board has much more flotation than any life jacket, and allows someone to climb back on board to escape cold water situations. Most fatalities do not involve someone wearing a leash but not a life jacket. The serious or fatal accidents are caused by not wearing a leash, so the board is able to float or blow away from the paddler. A person wearing a life jacket in this situation would have flotation, but would still be stuck out in the water without the board, which could be serious in cold water far from shore. If the paddler is a strong swimmer, and the leash were to break, having a life jacket will slow the person's swimming speed down to the point that they may not be able to catch a board that is blowing away, that they could have easily reached if they were able to swim normally. There is no question that any non-swimmer, or a very weak swimmer, should wear a life jacket during any water activities, including paddleboarding.

The most ridiculous, and dangerous, regulations are those that require, or allow, a life jacket to be strapped to the board. If the person is not wearing a leash, the board may get away from the paddler, taking the life jacket with it.

Experienced paddlers would never consider getting on a board, even for a moment, without a leash, but there are some situations where wearing a life jacket may be considered unsafe. Much of my own padding is done in surf, sometimes quite sizable. In large surf, it is often critical to be able to dive underwater, either to swim under a powerful wave, or to escape from a surfboard or surfer coming towards you on the surface. In a surf situation, no experienced paddler would ever wear, or support someone else wearing, a life jacket; it is just plain dangerous to be trapped on the surface. What is critical in SUPing in the surf is the use of a heavy duty leash designed to survive higher stress loads.

One of the more extreme branches of SUPing is what is called ‘downwinding’. This involves going out in 20 to 40 mph winds, and paddling with the wind in order to catch and ride the large rolling windswells. Those of us who are very concerned with safety will sometimes even wear two ankle leashes during the most extreme conditions, in case one leash were to fail, and some of us will wear an inflatable device that is worn in a compact waist belt. A full Coast Guard approved life jacket could once again be dangerous in these intense environments. Climbing back onto the board in high winds and rough seas can be challenging, and wearing a large life jacket can make this a great deal more challenging, verging on impossible; a dangerous situation.

Some Coast Guard regulations that try to link SUP safety to boating regulations are very misdirected efforts. No one is going to leash themselves to a boat, whereas in SUP, this is the primary rule of safety. It makes sense to require life jackets to be carried on a boat, but attaching a PFD to a SUP is asking for a drowning, as the PFD floats away attached to the board. This gives a dangerously false sense of safety to those new to the sport.

We in the SUPing community applaud your effort to bring SUP safety into public awareness. However, it needs to be recognized that it is the ankle leash that is the primary safety device in paddle boarding, not the life jacket. Life jackets have their place for non-swimmers, very weak swimmers in a non-surf environment, or in extreme cold water situations, but only if used in conjunction with a leash.  It is very concerning that the ankle leash, the primary safety device in SUPing, is never mentioned in the article.

I hope that this information may prove useful in any future articles on paddleboarding."
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pdxmike

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Re: Seattle Times Article on SUP Related Drownings
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2019, 02:52:49 PM »
nalu, that's a great letter.  That (or even just parts) could work as a response to just about any article about a SUP drowning.  I read it thinking, "But you need to mention (whatever)" and then the next line, there it was, plus some points I would have missed.


Personally--not aimed at your letter, but as thinking about the idea of a template for future letters--I'd add something about everyone doing water activities should learn to swim competently, and not consider a pfd as a substitute for swimming ability, and I'd also hope reporting on any drownings goes beyond focusing on whether the victim had a pfd, and mentions leashes (as you noted) and swimming ability.




 


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