scouts-l Mail Archive for August of 2000: Re: PFDs, fitting & wearing
Jack & John Wright (jwright@CHATTANOOGA.NET
Wed Aug 02 2000 - 22:55:12 CDT
I'm on a committee that runs a Council Whitewater program here around
Chattanooga. 5 years ago we bought and outfitted 12 ww canoes and 2
trailers. SMs check them out and use them on nearby rivers with their
Troops for free only after they've completed our weekend adult ww safety
course that we teach in May each year. Scouters have come from all over
the SE USA to our course. The local ww club's been teaching that course
for 33 years here. We've got 60 or 70 trained SMs & ASMs, and the 12 ww
canoes have been used every weekend, 8 or 9 months/year, for 5 years
FWIW, we got about 40 ExtraSport PFDs for the program 5 years ago, and
they're holding up very well, in about 6 or 7 sizes, from XXS for small
11 year olds to XXL for the largest adults. I've worn ExtraSport's
hi-float model myself for many years. A common mis-conception is that
all you have to do is have some kind of PFD in the boat somewhere. This
may even be your state's law, for flatwater. But our BSA Safety Afloat
#4 mandates wearing them, with "proper fitting" wording in some texts.
We teach our SMs a unique way about serious PFD fitting and wearing, and
we have great fun doing it. Each boy and adult is fitted with the
proper size of PFD at a Troop meeting well before the trip, so it's
known who's going and how many of what size PFD to check out and bring
from Council HQ (plus a couple extras).
Now for the fun part. As soon as we arrive near a river bank, exiting
the vehicles, the SPL is primed to scream "Safety Stick-up!!", and on
that command everybody gets into their correct size PFD, tightens it
down 'till they can't breathe, lines up in a straight line, holding arms
straight up overhead, like Jesse James hisself was holding a tommy gun
on them. They have great fun with this.
Then 2 large adults go around to each boy and adult, and lift only his
PFD from the shoulders and behind. If it's tight enough, the person can
be lifted off his feet. If not, it'll come off over his head, just like
it will if/when he falls in the water. That's the simple, fun, and
effective test. Any PFDs that come off that way get an immediate
special fitting on the spot, 'cause all good SMs always bring a couple
of extra sizes of PFDs for that contingency, (of course). If proper
fitting can't be done, the person doesn't go on the trip.
This is done upon exiting vehicles so even while curious boys are
wandering around the river bank while canoes are being unloaded/loaded,
they're protected. No one is allowed to unzip or loosen his PFD all day
until we're getting back into vehicles, well clear of the river, after
the trip. No one has turned blue from lack of breathing ability yet.
The boys and adults in our Council tell us they've really appreciated
this emphasis on PFD safety, and the habits it instills for the future.
Troop 30 MC
Council WW Committee founder & member
Silver Beaver, 1998