BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
The following headline appeared recently in several area newspapers. “Irma man killed in boating accident on the Wisconsin River.” Unfortunately boating accidents occur all too frequently during the summer months in Wisconsin.
I recently drove past the Life Jacket Loaner Station at the boat landing at Hodag Park and remembered that life jackets for children are available there for no charge. The life jackets can be used and then returned when finished. According to the Wisconsin Handbook of Boating Laws and Responsibilities, “Historically most of Wisconsin’s boating fatalities have occurred in small boats with victims who were not wearing life jackets.”
According to the sign on the kiosk, sponsors of the “Kids Don’t Float” program at the Hodag Boat Landing are Hodag Water Shows, Wisconsin DNR, Conservation Wardens and the Wisconsin Boating Safety Organization. The storage box was built by Scout Troop 673.
Kids Don’t Float kiosks are located at other area lakes, in many other Wisconsin communities, as well as in other states.
Frequently people complain about life jackets being uncomfortable to wear but many of the newer designs are much lighter and more comfortable. In the past this column has described my preference for the self-inflating life preservers.
Federal law requires that children under the age of 13 wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved life jacket while underway in an open vessel on federally-controlled waters.
Those using a vessel on the water need to be aware that all vessels, including canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, must have at least one USCG-approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. It is the responsibility of the boat operator to provide those personal flotation devices (PFD).
If your boat is 16 feet or more you must have one USCG-approved throwable PFD on board.
Those operating a personal watercraft must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD.
“Remember, when you need a life jacket you need to be wearing it,” said Ray Zellner, the Wisconsin DNR boating law administrator.
Additional information is available from the web site, dnr.wi.gov or call 608-266-2141.
Any discussion of boating safety should include the admonition that alcohol and drugs do not mix with operating a boat. Just as with driving a car, a designated operator should be selected if alcohol will be involved during the outing. Unfortunately too many boating accidents involve alcohol or drugs.
In addition to mosquitoes, this area of Wisconsin has a healthy population of ticks. Most of us who spend any time outdoors have found ticks crawling somewhere on their clothing or body. If you have found a tick somewhere on your body you know the feeling that causes you to “feel” another tick with every itch or imagined movement on your skin.
Because ticks carry disease some have become more paranoid about contact with various types of ticks. Many people in our area have contracted Lyme disease from infected ticks.
Repellents are available for use. Those who constantly encounter ticks most likely use permethrin. It is not toxic but is not effective on the skin, only clothing.
Permethrin kills ticks. If using it on clothing the recommendation is that the garments should be sprayed when you are not wearing them. Let the clothing dry before wearing.
DEET is a repellent that can be used on your skin. It doesn’t kill the ticks but repels them. Be sure to apply to the back of your neck, behind your ears and on your extremities.
What you wear can help prevent ticks from taking up residence on your body. Light colors can help you find the ticks. Also some people tuck their pant legs into their socks.
For quite some time clothing has been available that repels ticks, mosquitoes and other insects. Some of the brands claim that the repellent clothing remains effective through numerous washings.
In spite of using repellent or wearing special clothing an occasional tick will find its way onto your skin. A full body “tick-check” should be routine, especially for children and those spending a lot of time in tick country.
My method for removing ticks is to either use a tick tweezer or with my fingernail pinch where the tick has attached, wiggling it until it comes loose. Use some antibacterial cream and be sure to watch the area for any sign of infection.
Hopefully the heavy rains and high winds we have experienced recently will come to an end and we will be able to enjoy some summer weather.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.