Have A Safe 4th Of July

Earlier this week a dude driving a truck while texting meandered off the road and ran over a woman, killing her. More horrifically, she was on a bike towing a child trailer occupied by her two children, one and four years of age, so they got to watch their mom die. The man who apparently killed this woman, on a road in southern Minnesota, is Christopher Weber of Madison, South Dakota. Apparently he was texting. Assuming this happened as reported, we have here a case of someone being a complete moron and a lot of other people paying a terrible price. "A person who ... causes the death of a human being not constituting murder or manslaughter or the death of an unborn child may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both." So the four year old will be 14 when Weber gets out of prison if he is given the maximum and serves his time. A lot of people will find this unsatisfying.

A couple of years ago I wrote about Huxley, who is now four, and how he was learning to swim. A couple of days ago he jumped off the dock on his own (more or less) for the first time. That is a major accomplishment, apparently. I'm not a big swimming person. I think the idea is that at a certain age you just start jumping off the dock all the time. Everyone in Amanda's family seem to do it frequently. Sometimes they jump off the boat. Sometimes it seems that the main reason you go up north is to jump off of things into the water.

We are strict about following the safety rules for Huxley, but we are less strict for ourselves. Well, technically we follow the rules, but really, shouldn't every body always be wearing their life vests all the time if they are anywhere near water just in case??? OK, maybe I'm taking that too far, but the truth is that a large percentage of the people who die in boating or dock related accidents didn't have their life vests on, and the whole point of a life vest is to keep your breathing holes out of the water when you fall unconscious into it (or hit your head on the way down). How embarrassing it must be to die of drowning in 3 feet of water because you hit your head. According to me, in an earlier post that links to a source that is gone but I don't have time to find a new version,

Not wearing a life vest when you are on a recreational boat is about the same as not wearing your seat belt when driving on the highway: Perhaps 8 out of 10 water-recreation related deaths in the US in recent years would not have happened were the person wearing a life vest (as in wearing, not just having one nearby). In 2008, about 700 people died in boating accidents in the US. Over 500 of those deaths were by drowning. Of those, abut 50 were wearing their life vest.

Also, drowning, the second most common cause of death for children in the US, is quiet, you knew that, right?

Drowning, it turns out, does not look like drowning. It often looks like nothing at all. From your point of view at the pool side, in the cabana, at the beach, or on the boat, drowning simply looks like this: The person simply isn’t there any more because they quietly slipped to the bottom of the water after quietly struggling mostly out of your sight.

So keep that mind.

So when you are going off for the Fourth of July weekend, don't text while you drive, keep a life vest on at appropriate times, and remember that drowning is quite. Also, don't put electrical wires in the lake, don't drink too much, and practice lightning awareness safety.

Also, fireworks, don't point them at people. And don't bring your gun into Target. I'm more than a little annoyed that Target "respectfully requests" guests to not bring firearms into their stores. Those people deserve not one iota of respect. They are bullies. They should be tossed out on their ears.

Remember: The fourth of July is, in essence, the celebration of a war in which a lot of people died or were maimed, but as a culture we consider it to have been worth it. But now we just celebrate it, not re-enact it. Stay safe this weekend.

And, if you are in the Carolinas, I recommend wearing clamdiggers to keep your pants dry.

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A scene from the near future:

Three gun nuts carry their guns into a retail store. They emerge and start walking back to their car. A truck pulls along side them and the driver, speaking through the rolled down window and wearing a smile, asks the three if their guns are loaded. They answer back that they are not. At which point the driver sticks out a handgun and informs them that his gun is loaded and demands they pile their guns and wallets into the back of the truck, or get shot. The truck drives away with their guns and wallets and is never seen again.

Those guns are not cheap. Typically they retail for $900 to $1800 each without sights or add-ons. On the black market they, or a gun show, are easy to sell.

Regarding life jackets: There is a difference between a lifejacket and a buoyancy aid. A buoyancy aid (Type II or III PFD) is what's typically recommended to wear while canoeing, sailing on a lake, etc. It will NOT reliably turn an unconscious wearer face up (some will for some people).

A life-jacket (Type I PFD) will turn an unconscious wearer face-up but is bulky to the point of impracticality.

Of course, inflatable life jackets solve the bulk problem but must be automatic to be any use to an unconscious person, in which case they can't be used for things like dinghy sailing and canoeing (as you'll probably get wet enough to trigger the life jacket).

Water sports are not devoid of risk. I wear an automatic inflatable lifejacket in boats where I don't expect to get too wet (powerboats or sailing yachts) and a buoyancy aid in ones where I do (canoes, sailing dinghies). I don't trust the buoyancy aid to keep my head above water if I were knocked unconscious, but there's nothing practical for those sports that will.

By Alphagamma (not verified) on 02 Jul 2014 #permalink

I live near a major river. Judging by the number of lives it takes each year I would say that swimming in it or using it for recreation in any way is a very dangerous endeavor. Lakes are not much better but there is something sinister about moving water. It's like you mentioned Greg. Someone will be there one moment, and then the next, they're gone. It may take days to find their body.

I have pretty much given up swimming in fresh water. Not only because of the danger of drowning but because of fresh water parasites. Like the one that eats out your brain. It's extremely rare, but I don't care how rare it is. I'm going to make it 0%.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 03 Jul 2014 #permalink

"Also, fireworks,..."

We've had a good number of places pop up selling fireworks. Big tents in parking lots, etc.

I've passed by one of the larger places, on a main street in town, maybe 5 times in last couple weeks. At least three times there have been 3 or 4 guys, (the folks doing the selling I assume) standing chatting and smoking at the entrance to the tent. It's startling to see.

Richard Chapman, don't look! It's standing right behind you!

Had a conversation with my brother-in-law about Target. He's got a concealed-carry permit, and he's usually carrying. He's an ardent gun rights proponent. And he thinks it's crazy to openly carry rifles into a store, because it makes you look like you're scrapping for a fight. Which, of course, these people kinda are, even if it's more of a verbal/political fight they're scrapping for.

Art is right. Openly carrying to make a political point is a bit like flashing expensive jewelry or smartphones. It makes you a target. And the usual argument for the right to bear arms is self-defense; as I see it, the first and most important step in self-defense is avoiding becoming a target in the first place, so openly flaunting your weapon goes right against that. It's stupid, and sooner or later it's going to get someone very badly hurt.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 07 Jul 2014 #permalink