Peg Phillips from the National Safe Boating Council Water Safety Champion Story

Episode 15 June 12, 2024 00:41:36

Show Notes

Adam Katchmarchi and Alissa Magrum talk to Peg Phillips and learn about her Water Safety Champion story and her work at the National Safe Boating Counil.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: NDPA presents the Water Safety Champion podcast. Welcome back to another episode of the NDPA Water Safety Champion podcast. Happy to be with you again. Adam Kechmarchi, the CEO of the NDPA, joined by my colleague, heart half of the water safety odd couple, Alyssa Magram. Alyssa, good to see you today. [00:00:27] Speaker B: Hey, you too. Good to hear you. [00:00:29] Speaker A: Good to hear. I know, right? We're doing audio. I know we just had that discussion, but good to hear you. At least the viewers can know. I can see you and our guests today. So we're going to have a full on conversation. But I have to say this is a conversation I've been looking forward to, not only because of the individual, but because of the really importance of boating safety. And, you know, at NDPA we care about all drownings, all bodies of water, but we know the majority of adults are drowning in natural waterways and that may in many ways involve the way that they're recreating on the water, which in many ways can be paddle sports, traditional boating activities. So really keeping in mind the safety aspects of that are critically important. So I am thrilled with the guest we have today, who is Peg Phillips, the executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. And if you have not checked out the national Safe Boating Council and especially their wear it campaign, please go do it, because I know they put a ton of effort in every year with the US Coast Guard and a ton of their partners to spread the importance and the information about boating and water safety. So, Peg, welcome to the podcast. [00:01:36] Speaker C: Hey, thank you so much. Great to see you both. [00:01:39] Speaker A: Great to have you on. So, Peg, let's just dive right in. I'm going to ask you our traditional first question. What is your water story? [00:01:46] Speaker C: Oh, wow. Great water story. So I grew up on family dairy farm, and the back part of the property was the broad river. This is up in northeast Georgia. And so those hot Georgia days, working out on the farm, everybody kind of ended up in the river at the end of the day. And of course, you know, I was 3456 years old living there. And so I didn't, I didn't know about water safety at the time, but I have memories of us just, you know, jumping off huge boulders into the, into the broad river with not a care, right, no life jackets, no water safety whatsoever, and all just kind of ending up in the water. So, yeah, I grew up in that, in that environment. And very shortly after that, after living there for about four years, I was adopted. I didn't know that back then, but I was actually living in a foster home that I grew up in on the farm, and I was adopted and moved to St. Simon's Island, Georgia. So another huge opportunity to be around water. A little bit different this time I'm in a saltwater environment, a big boating area, big fishing area. And one of my first memories with this new family was they had no idea what skills I had, right. They had just gotten a six year old little girl. But them taking me to the YMCA for swimming lessons and us sitting at the edge of the pool with our legs dangling over the side, and I just jumped in the pool and swam to the deep end. And the swimming instructor called my mom. [00:03:31] Speaker B: Oh, great. [00:03:32] Speaker C: I don't think she needs swimming lessons. [00:03:36] Speaker B: Oh, I love this so much. I've heard a lot of water stories on this podcast, and this one, peg, yours might be my favorite so far. [00:03:47] Speaker C: That's great. [00:03:48] Speaker B: So then where did you go? How did you go from the YMCA to where you are now? [00:03:51] Speaker C: Yeah. So the first picture that I have of me wearing a life jacket is I'm six years old. I'm with this new family, and they have a power boat. And so there's a picture of me on this power boat with the orange life jacket around my neck, just sitting in the back. I'm missing some of my front teeth. But that is my first image that I have of me on a boat. Probably was the first time that I've ever been on a boat. Cause at the farm, we didn't have boating, but definitely had the swimming there. So power boating was introduced to me at a very young age, six years old, skiing and tubing and that sort of thing, the water sports that comes along with that. And then the family sold the boat, I would say within maybe three years. And I quickly, you know, I guess it. I guess my personality came from this outdoors living that I had done for four years on this farm. But I was the only outdoors person in this new family. And so I was out every morning, you know, left the house every morning in the summertime when I was in school and was either doing something around water or wandering around looking for, you know, adventurer hunting in the woods, looking for water. It was kind of. Probably was kind of my thing as a kid was. Was just very adventurous, outdoorsy, not, you know, not afraid of anything. So knowing what I know now, there was certainly a good level of risk associated with some of the things. But I think a lot of us as adults can look back on that. Especially in the sixties and seventies, we weren't as vocal about water safety as we are today. [00:05:38] Speaker A: And so, peg, I know you, before you came to the council, had a long professional career in boating. Tell us a little bit about that and how you got involved in the professional boating world. [00:05:50] Speaker C: Yeah. So I started kayaking, I would say in my teens, early twenties, I got introduced to kayaking. And I have to say the first kayak that I actually bought from an outfitters, I bought it at Southeast Adventure outfitters on St. Simon's island. And I went about it completely wrong. I went in and I bought this kayak without asking them any questions, and I got it on the water, and I hated it. So a couple, couple trips out, I'm hating this kayak. And I go back in and I said, I hate that kayak. And the owner looked at it and said, well, it's because it's too big for you. It was really wide. And I'm a petite, petite person. And he said, you know, of course you're going to just be fatigued. It doesn't fit you at all. So I learned something from that experience with them. They took that kayak back. They fitted me properly and gave me some lessons and put me out. And then, you know, it changed my whole world to kayaking. So thank goodness I had that exposure because otherwise I would have just not liked kayaking. And I meet so many people that have a bad experience like that initially. And it can be so different if we just have some interaction with a professional and they can put us in a, get us the right gear and put us in some equipment that fits us. So I started paddling in my teens and twenties and then went away to college, got a bachelor's degree in marketing and went to work for the corporate world. And I have to say, the whole time I was in it, I did not enjoy it. And then around 2005, I started just kind of taking a look at my life and saying, you know, I wonder if I could make a career out of something that I have a passion about and something that I really enjoy doing. And so I kind of carried this outdoorsy, adventurous kayaking hobby of mine to the next level, and I became an ACA certified instructor, went through a couple of their courses. Then I went through the Florida master naturalist program. This was a span of a few years so that I could learn more about the environment and be able to give interpretive tours. And I started volunteering for organizations in state parks, giving kayaking tours, kayaking lessons. And eventually a nonprofit approached me and said, we love what you're doing. Why don't you just come work for us and so I went to work for a nonprofit, and I created these programs for them, and we started a summer camp for at risk youth down in Estero, Florida. And 300 kids every summer came through that program, just exposing them, you know, and it was really interesting. Some of those kids lived within a mile of the state park and had never been to the state park. They lived within 15 minutes of the beach and had never been to the beach. Wow. It was. It was really interesting. So, as you can imagine, as those kids would come into the state park and get around that boat ramp environment and see the equipment out there, the kayaks and the paddles and so forth, I think there were some that were kind of adventurous, like, like the kid that I was. But for the most part, I would say they were fearful and just. Just not real anxious to jump in that kayak or anything. So what I used to do on the, whenever I had a new group come in and we had a. Had middle school kids one week and then high school the next week, is I would put an inherently buoyant life jacket on, and I would just walk down that boat ramp right into the river, and then I would try to dunk my head under and show them that I just wasn't capable of doing that. And just showing them that they would want to put a, you know, oh, I want to do that. So they'd put a life jacket on and get in the river and try to duck their head under and. But it just showed them to trust their life. Jack, you know, you might fall off of this kayak, but trust that life jacket. It is going to keep your head above the water. And so we did that. I did historical kayaking tours along the river, and just being out in the waterways around southwest Florida, I became very aware of the need for more boating safety messaging and legislation. So I became involved with the Florida Boating Safety Advisory Committee. They put me on a non motorized boat working group and got involved on the policy side of things for mandatory education, life jacket wear, those sorts of mandates that can come down from a state level, and then just exposure for giving on water training and so forth. So I gained that exposure on the boating side, and at the same time, I was very quickly put in charge of this nonprofit. So spent nine years leading a nonprofit organization in southwest Florida. So that when this position opened up, I looked at it and thought, wow, that is just written for me. I take this now from a state and regional level to a national level, and I applied for it, and two. [00:11:04] Speaker A: Weeks later, I was offered the position that's incredible. And, you know, I. I've been familiar with the safe boating council for quite some time. And, you know, I will admit when Virgil, who had your role prior to you coming in, when he announced that he was moving on into retirement, I was like, oh, my gosh, how are they going to find someone to fill? Frankly, Virgil's big shoes. And I mean, you have done it masterfully, you know, to watch how the council has evolved and grown. And even from the conference to your campaigns, you should feel incredibly proud of all the work the council is doing to keep voters safe around this country. Alyssa, anything you want to jump into or. [00:11:47] Speaker B: I just love hearing one. I loved hearing your water story and how you made it into this, into your current role. And we've done a few things together. I spoke at the conference, but I don't know a lot. I'm just excited and kind of enthralled with this whole, I'm a stand up paddler, so I like to go out on the water. And this, I'm interested in talking with you about the sort of the boating and water safety and then sort of the general water safety. I know I work a lot with families. I know you've worked with Dana Gage from LV project for a lot of things, and she's been really instrumental in helping us kind of bridge that, like the open water and the boating water safety side of things with other sides of drowning prevention and water safety. So, no, I don't. I'm just, I'm just kind of really happy to be part of this conversation. And I just appreciate the work, Peg, that you and the council do. I know in Texas, the wear it, you know, the wear campaign. We've used it. We've used. Where at Texas. We've used it for different organizations. The branding of that particular campaign, and we've put logos on our billboards when I was at Collins Hope. So it's. It's just fun to be part of this conversation and thank you for all that you're doing. [00:13:06] Speaker C: Yeah, and you bring up. Thank you for those kind words. You bring up. Just an important component of our voting safety is our waves of Hope program. And the waves of hope is a coalition of individuals and family members who have in some way been impacted by a boating or open water tragedy. And we use their stories not to scare people, because boating is my favorite thing to do. So I want people to enjoy boating. And if we really think about it, 100 million people go boating every year. It is a relatively safe activity to participate in, but there are certainly measurable by the coast guard incidents each year where we have property damage and injuries and, unfortunately, deaths. So we use our waves of hope stories and their experience to educate voters. Most of their stories involve something that was preventable. So if a life jacket had been worn, and the coast guard statistics will stand behind us, 85% of drowning victims from the voting environment are not wearing a life jacket. So just think about how many could be preventable. Attaching that engine cutoff switch, for example, which is now federal law, would prevent so many propeller strikes or runaway boats. So it's just using their stories to educate so that hopefully we can have a cultural shift, you know, and what we'd really like to get to is a point where. And nothing against you, Adam, but you're the only male on the call here. But I think it's both sexes, but I think male more, where if you just think of a group of teenage boys, for example, getting on a boat, and maybe you have four or five teenage boys getting on a boat and one of them is wearing a life jacket, the perception would be that that one kid is a weak swimmer. We want to shift that perception to that one kid is the real smart one. He's the real boater because he's wearing boating gear. Right. And. And it's just like any other sport. We have our gear, and a cyclist wears a helmet, has, you know, certain bright, brightly colored colored clothing and helmet and their gloves, and. And they have gear for that sport. Downhill skiing, they have gear for that sport. And life jackets can be viewed in that same way. Is this is the gear that a real boater wears? And we really want that cultural shift. [00:15:43] Speaker B: To happen that, is that an ad campaign or is that something that's coming out as an ad campaign? Because that's amazing. And I think that as a person who mountain bikes and skis and stand up paddles and swims, like, all the gear that I have in my world, like, that is that is that resonates, like, so loudly with me in particular. I'm not a male, and I'm not a teenage male or a whatever, but I think that that message alone is, do you have the gear you have and, you know, this is your gear? That's brilliant. [00:16:18] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:16:20] Speaker C: It's our current messaging in our campaign. And if you look at what we really try to do is normalize life jacket wear. Yeah. So through all of our campaigns, if you look at the images and the videos that we have, we are just normalizing it and showing such a variety of life jackets too, whether it's an inflatable or inherently buoyant or a belt pack, just wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket. You know, you've got an array of styles and colors to choose from. As long as it's US coast Guard approved, you've got the right gear. [00:16:49] Speaker B: Right. [00:16:50] Speaker A: Well, and, you know, peg, there's like 30 directions I want to go with what you just said, but, you know, as. And I don't think. I think, Alyssa, I may have shared this on the podcast before, but, you know, I was 18, water safety instructor, lifeguard instructor, and I made some stupid decisions around natural water that, you know, frankly, it turned out like I had some bumps and bruises from what I did, but it was nothing that, um, you know, was significant. Um, thank God. But it could have been. And I, you know, and this is what I think is challenging. Like, I. I was in the water safety conversation even at that point, and I knew I was making a bad choice, but still made the choice. Right. So there's a. There's a lot we still have to overcome, and that's a difficult age group. Right. The, you know, the 15 to 29, 35 year old males who, you know, think they're invincible. And our statistics show it's interesting, you know, above the age of one, the majority of drowning victims are male, but, you know, above the age of 15, that at really age 15, that drowning risk triples for males, where it doesn't so much for females. And so. Gentlemen listening. Yes, I'll own it for all of us. We make some unfortunate decisions sometimes. [00:17:59] Speaker B: Well, I've made some of my own, just FYI. [00:18:03] Speaker A: Thanks for making me feel better about. [00:18:05] Speaker B: The jumping off rocks into the, you know, as a kid or whatever. I mean, like, I, you know, I. My own water story shifted from, like, the reason I got involved with Colin's hope was because my daughter's preschool classmate was Colin, and he drowned in a lifeguarded pool. And for me, I've looked at how does my. How did my behaviors around water as a. As a competitive triathlete, as a swimmer, as a. As a parent raising a child, you know, how did that shift when. When I entered this world of water safety and drowning prevention? And I have videos and I'll own it. Like, prior to that of jumping off the low water crossing bridge in Austin and I didn't have a life jacket on or jumping off Blackrock in Maui. Like, I may. I think we all, if we look really, truly acknowledge, like, you don't. We didn't know. I didn't know, you know, I didn't think about it. And then once it's in your consciousness, we can make those safer, better decisions. So you're not, you're not, you know, I'm not going to take all the males to take all the thing. I can own some of. Some poor decision making, too. [00:19:13] Speaker C: If I can just, just address that one topic about the. We call it voluntary departure from a boat. [00:19:20] Speaker A: Yep. [00:19:21] Speaker C: So, so this is, this is when, you know, we get into that open water. But it's voluntary departure from a boat. Whether you're water skiing, you're tubing, you're hot, and you just want to go for a dunk or maybe you have to go to the bathroom. Right. That happens a lot, too. People just jump off the boat to go to the bathroom. And we had a family up in Maryland last year. Their kids got hot, so nobody will ever understand the thinking here, but they told them to take their life jackets off and jump in. So the two kids took their life jackets off and drifted. They thought the boat was anchored, and they didn't use the, what we call the maneuver, it's called boater's eye to really determine if your boat is not moving. But the anchor was not set, the boat was drifting in the. So the kids got quickly separated from the boat and started to panic. The father took his life jacket off and jumped in. One child and the father both drowned. So it's that thinking. I think just this week we had somebody lose their hat on a boat, and they jumped in after the hat and didn't resurface. No life jacket on. So it's that, it's this that, you know, you know, I want to stress, and I say this so often to people swimming in an open water environment. And, Alyssa, you can just attest to this as a triathlete, but it is not at all the same as swimming in a pool. Yeah, see, through the water. There's critters in there. There's vegetation and things. There's a, the water's moving, so the temperature. So, you know, if you think, well, I'm a strong swimmer in a pool, let me just jump off this boat. It is not the same. And they need to put a life jacket on before they depart from that vessel. [00:21:04] Speaker B: Well, this is an interesting thing, and I would love to. I'm channeling my colleague and good friend Courtney Klein from Swimfield Life Colorado, who is a, she has a swim school in Evergreen, Colorado, and she has a pool. She has a pool that has a current in it. And so her whole thing is, teaching. Her lessons are all about teaching, you know, taking your skills that you learned to swim in a calm pool or whatever, turning on the current and then having to adapt to open water conditions and being able to have swim skills and water competency that translate from that clear, calm pool. Obviously, that pool is still clear, but, but you're able to adjust to adaptive, you know, to adapt to different environments. And that is, like, something, I'm getting all kinds of thoughts in my head right now of, like, how we could push this out together is that whole thing from. Most people learn how to swim in a calm, clear pool with steps and ladders and they can get out really easily. And then they take their, those skills that they learned to an open water environment, but they don't have the skills to adapt to that environment, whether they're on a boat and they get off the boat to get in or they go to the ocean and there's, there's totally different environment and it's huge. And it's. [00:22:24] Speaker A: I want to really hit that temperature thing for a second because this is a weird time of year sometimes because, yeah, if you're on the gulf right now, that water temperature is already about 80 degrees through at least most of the southern Gulf, through the keys, up through the Tampa St. Pete area. But I was just talking with John Fetterman at Nasbla last week, and as we know, John's up in Maine. And I don't know what made me look at this, but I just pulled up, like, water temperatures on the northern atlantic coast, and right now, the water temperature right off the coast of Maine, it may have gone up a little bit this week, but it's, I think it was in the low fifties and fifties. [00:23:01] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:23:02] Speaker A: Yeah. And I mean, that's going to keep creeping up, but I don't think sometimes people realize that water below 70 degrees is cold water. And, you know, seeing a water temperature of 62 degrees, even though the air temperature is 82 degrees, you think, oh, if I fall in, it's hot outside, it's no big deal. But that temperature is challenging. [00:23:22] Speaker B: It's huge. It's huge. I just read an article for the Leadville paper here about water safety and talked about the, you know, check the water conditions and the water temperature is one of those things. I mean, I'm in Colorado. It's all snow melt. What the water, if the lakes are, you know, melted or the rivers are, it's snowmelt. So it's cold. Yeah. It's totally different. [00:23:43] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:23:44] Speaker C: Yeah. Let's talk. So we'll create with this campaign. I think the tagline is know your water, know your skill level. [00:23:52] Speaker B: Yep. [00:23:52] Speaker C: Make sure that they match because otherwise you're going to get yourself into a situation. Yeah. [00:23:59] Speaker A: You know, and that's something I, I know we at NDPA have been bringing up for some time. You know, we talk about water competency, right. As one of our five layers of protection to reduce the risk of drowning. And, um, you know, we, I've been trying to tell people water competency is not a static thing, right. You may be water competent in that 85 degree pool that has no current in anything, but then when you go out to that environment and you're not water competent, right. That you need to understand how your own skill level. Yes. You may be a swimmer and a boater, but in that environment, you're, you're not prepared to, you know, do what you can do in an 80 degree pool. And I, I don't think that's a message we can push out enough to our young adults especially. [00:24:45] Speaker B: I would like to be part of that campaign, peg, for real. [00:24:50] Speaker A: Well, and Peg, I do want to, if you don't mind talking a little bit about the where it campaign, what this campaign is. I know this has been an ongoing campaign, but I think the marketing keeps getting better and better. And I know you're able to produce psas each year. And I love seeing the. I'm a real boater, that kind of mindset, because one of the things that I know we've been challenged with, and I'm sure you share the same challenges, education is one part of it. Right. We need people to be aware that they're at risk so they can understand that they need to take safety steps for their own health and well being. But that doesn't always translate into behavior change. And, you know, I think that's something, you know, out of all the campaigns around water safety, I think where it has done probably the best job at starting to think through some of those behavior changes that we want to see. [00:25:44] Speaker C: Yeah. So it really is about a cultural shift and we can count on mandates to help us a little bit. We just had a mandate come through with the engine cutoff switch, for example, and so that's certainly helping us now. We can educate that this, this is the law, so you have to do it kind of thing. Yeah. The safe boating campaign is kind of our umbrella campaign for all of our campaigns, with a central message of the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers on the water is just wear a life jacket. And then, of course, we have these other boating safety tips that we add on to that as well. Distracted boating is a huge component towards incident rate. So don't be on your phone. Always have that 360 view of what's going on. Have other people on your vessel as well, keeping a proper lookout, even if it's not required in your state. Get your online boating safety certificate. It's [email protected]. dot. You can go online and get that for free. It's about depending on how smart you are, it's a four to 6 hours kind of student course. Took me 6 hours, I will say. But I also didn't do it in one chunk, so I could sign on, do a couple hours. So I don't do a couple hours. But it's amazing what you'll learn about navigation aids, for example, which is really important for people. And just some, some basic boating safety. But get that boating safety card, get some education behind you. Definitely boat sober. You know, we all get dehydrated out on the water, but let's hydrate with some non alcoholic and save the alcohol until we get back to shore and, you know, check the weather. And here's a big part of checking the weather is heed the warning. We are finding out, we are finding out through some of our data that there's a certain part of the population, boating population that will see a weather warning and say, well, you know what, it's my day off and they'll go out anyway. And then again, know your water, know your skill level, right? Find themselves in a situation that they're finding challenging. So, yeah, that safe voting campaign, we manage national safe voting week, which we're going into. [00:27:58] Speaker B: When is that? When is national safe voting week? [00:28:00] Speaker C: So we'll start with Friday, May 17, is wear your life jacket at work day. So we look forward to seeing a lot of fun images and video online from our partners and members around the country, really around the world. It's just such a great, fun event. Just a way to remind people about the importance of life jackets. Going to be on a boat or in an open water environment, just wear a life jacket. So we're going to start with that. National Safe Boating Week is May 18 through the 24th. So we're going to do a lot of media events and just tons of stuff on social media. But you can get all those resources for national safe Boating week for [email protected]. [00:28:42] Speaker B: Dot make the assumption that the reason that that is the week is because it leads us to Memorial Day, weekend or close to, too. And a long, busier boating season. Is that the intention of the timing of all of that? [00:28:58] Speaker C: It is. It is. And some people may not know that national safe voting week is actually a presidential proclamation. So we write the proclamation and we send it to the coast Guard and they edit it, and then it goes to homeland security, and eventually it ends up on the president's desk and the president will sign that and declaring national safe boating week. But, yeah, it's funny for us in Florida to think about kicking off the boating season because season, right. But it really, for the rest of the country, kicks off that boating season so that we have three or four months of seven days a week people are out on the waterways. [00:29:36] Speaker A: That's awesome. Well, you know, I do have to give a shout out to the entire boating safety community because so last week I was at the Life Jacket association conference in Clearwater floor, Florida, and our friend Tom Dardis from the Coast Guard presented out on their data report. And, you know, I, earlier in the day before, Tom had given a presentation just on the totality of us drowning statistics. And one of the things I often bring up is we did a great job from 1980 to 2000 for cutting our totality of drowning rate in this country by far more than half. And then from 2000 to 2019, it all stayed fairly steady. And then, as Alyssa and I were talking earlier today, the CDC, if most people aren't aware, I know this recording will come out after. But the CDC yesterday released a vital signs report that had some staggering increases. One to four year olds 2022 compared to 2019. 28% increase overall in total drownings. African american black people on a whole, 28% increase 2019 compared to 2022. One shocking one. Older adults, when we just look at drowning by age category now, adults 65 and older are now the second highest drowning rate. When we just looking by age 65 to 74 year olds, say a 19, almost 20% increase comparing 22 to 2019. And the reason I bring that up is not to just dwell on the negativity of where we're at with our drowning statistics, but the boating statistics side, it is almost the exact opposite. Where Tom put up that chart to show where boating fatalities were in the 1970s and trailing that into where we're at now, I mean, it is just an incredible feat of reducing those number of boating accidents and the fatalities associated with it. So I know sometimes we look at boating safety and water safety as being separate, but it's all one issue. And I know this is kind of a lot, but one of the other things that we recognize is, you know, 4500, you know, total drowning deaths between, you know, and that's including boating incidents or water transport incidence, as the CDC classifies them. But, you know, well over 2000 of our drowning numbers are adults who are drowning in natural waterways. They're not boating, whether they have voluntarily left a boat to, you know, go swimming or use the restroom or do something else, or whether they're just going to an undesignated swim site. And, you know, really our number one recommendation, even in those undesigned swim sites, are life jackets. And it's really knowing your own limitations. So, you know, I guess one, I have to say, you know, kudos to the boating safety community for all the work that's been done over the last 50 years to save lives and impact that that's really coming through in the data. And just to say, we all have a lot of work to do, just in general water safety, to really see that same reduction. But there's so many similarities pegged to what we're talking about, the behavior side and the, you know, thought of not overestimating your ability in the water. [00:32:43] Speaker C: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's, you know, some of the. Just from my experience working with those, the youth groups, 300 kids and underserved communities coming through my camps, those kids did not know how to swim. Their parents did not know how to swim, and they weren't offered the opportunity to learn how to swim. So that's where we need to change as a society, is that, you know, we can't just have pools inside gated communities. We can't just have pools inside of country clubs. We need to offer the opportunity to learn to swim to everyone. [00:33:19] Speaker B: Equal access. [00:33:20] Speaker C: We definitely need equal access. And then as far as getting into boating, I would, you know, people ask me, how did you become a voter? And I have to say, I got invited, and. And that is how most people start voting, if somebody invites them to go boating. Right? So invite. Invite somebody to go boating. You know, let's get more people introduced. [00:33:44] Speaker B: Put that out as a challenge. I'm gonna. I think I'm gonna take that challenge on, and when I get the first opportunity to get my stand up paddle board out, I have two of them. So I'm going to. Every time I go, I'm going to try to invite somebody new. Maybe I'll build, build the community, because my stand up paddleboard comes with a life jacket. No matter what that goes on your body. [00:34:04] Speaker A: Trip out to Leadville to visit Alyssa? [00:34:06] Speaker C: Yes, absolutely. [00:34:08] Speaker A: You know, one other thing. Peg, before we get to our final question, and I know I said there'd be two questions I'm going to ask you, but I am going to toss a third one your way, just because I think this is a challenge, and I'm curious just to know your viewpoint on it. Right. I mean, you know, boating, as much as it is regulated in this country, there is some unregulated pieces. And what I mean by that is, you know, we look at big box retailers, right? Like, I can go up to my local sporting goods store, and I know they have probably three aisles full of kayaks and canoes that I buy. The great part is they have a whole life jacket section right next to it, which. And they have a huge amount of life jackets. But, you know, one, the reason I bring that up is I think it's challenging because someone can go up there this afternoon if I wanted to go buy a kayak, go right out to my state park park, put that on the water, and I don't maybe have the right education or the right background to do it, and even, you know, I'm going to just call it out. Selecting the right life jacket. Right. It can be confusing. I was in a life jacket aisle, actually, at my local sporting goods store just a couple weeks ago, and I was like, I'm going to check out the life jacket section. And they had two full aisle ways of just multiple rows of life jackets, and huge, like, huge different varieties, amounts, different types and everything. But I know it's challenging, too, just being a consumer trying to make sense of what is the right life jacket to buy. So how do you, how do you guys at the council, you know, look at that and do you see that as a challenge? I guess, yeah. [00:35:37] Speaker C: You know, from, from my first experience with boating, I told you I bought the wrong. [00:35:41] Speaker B: I was going to say she's your perfect person. [00:35:43] Speaker C: I bought all the wrong equipment, and then I hated it. Right. So I think that is, that is a problem when people go buy their, their gear and their equipment at a big box store. On the other hand, isn't it good to kind of see some of that becoming more affordable? So we have to kind of weigh those two things, but we have to realize that when somebody goes to Costco or Sam's and buys a kayak and a lifejacket, they're not getting any education. Nobody on the floor was over there talking to them about, um, what size, you know, what kind of equipment to buy and how to use it. Right. [00:36:19] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:36:19] Speaker C: So I think it's, you know, we'd love to get them on board more so that there is some point of sale. I think education, whether it's just signage or just something, right? You know, buy this kayak and now look at Safe votingcampaign.com and learn more or something like that, is trying to get some education to people. I remember being at the Estero boat ramp once and, and I was watching this man unload like an eight foot kayak and he's hauling it down and he's like six two. And I kept watching him get all his gear ready and I said, is that kayak for you? And he said, yeah, I just bought it. And he probably bought it at Sam's or Costco. And I said, well, I can tell you, you're not going to like it. And I said, why not? And I said, because it's only 8ft long and you're about 6ft tall, so it's not going to hold you up very well. And he looked at me like I was crazy. He got in and he capsized. [00:37:13] Speaker B: So did he have a life jacket with that? [00:37:16] Speaker C: He did. Okay. He immediately flipped over and he couldn't get. I said, just go back and get one that's at least 14ft long and you'll be fine. But, you know, it's just that point of sale without, you know, it lacks the education. So that's certainly a challenge for us. So that, that's where we have our outreach events, that we have signage to remind people life check at loaner stations. We have the, where it signs at launch points with the pre drilled holes. They're free. You can get them from our warehouse. So really just, you know, trying to get education to people who are buying kayaks in that way. [00:37:53] Speaker A: That's great. Well, all right, I'm going to jump right into our final questions. [00:37:58] Speaker B: So I love this question. [00:38:00] Speaker A: I know it's become my favorite part of the podcast, honestly, is. So, peg, I am handing you a magic water safety one that you could change one thing, big or small. What would you change in the world of water safety? [00:38:14] Speaker C: So this one is just so easy. That would be that any vessel 16ft and under would require mandatory life jacket wear. Not carriage, but wear. And just think about that part of the statistics, the 16ft and under vessels. So that would cover my boat. I drive a 14 foot low john boat with a 25 hp mercury and I always wear my light jacket. But that would cover those kind of fishing boats, boats used for duck hunting. And I can tell you, duck hunters, they don't even know they're boaters. They're just using that to get to their duck blind. And they're over packing the boat with all their gear. So it would cover all of those, and then it would cover the majority of paddle craft, whether it's canoe, kayak, stand up, paddleboard, those people that are closer to the water that maybe got their equipment without any education or training whatsoever, and just an easy way to keep everybody safe on the water. [00:39:13] Speaker A: I love that because I have to say, obviously, just like you do, a lot of media this time of year. I started this year. When I talk about swim lessons and life jackets and our media messaging, I give a call out to adults and both of them saying, hey, adults, if you don't know how to swim, it's not too early to get your kid into swim lessons, but it's not too late to get yourself into swim lessons because you need just as much as they do. And then we talk about life jackets. I usually say just the general life jacket messaging, but I've started to really break it down and say, look, if your child's required to wear a life jacket at a boat, please wear one yourself, because the reality is you're the same risk. And what is your child going to do if you fall off of the boat and need help? They're not going to be able to save you. But if you wear your life jacket, it's going to prevent them from having a tragic experience, and it just models good behavior, and it sets that tone for the next generation. [00:40:14] Speaker C: Absolutely. [00:40:17] Speaker A: Well, thank you both. And Peg, thank you for you and all of your colleagues and all the work you do in the boating safety world. Thank you for keeping all of our folks safe on the waterways this summer season and all the work your team does. And especially, thank you for being a water safety champion and joining us on the NDPA water Safety champion podcast. Alyssa? [00:40:36] Speaker C: Yes. [00:40:36] Speaker B: So I love the know your water, know your skill. Sign me up if you need help with that campaign. I think that is brilliant. I think it's a message that people can relate to and is so applicable. And yeah, thank you for the work that you do, and I have witnessed it through the wear it campaign for years and just really believe that this bridge between the pool and the open water and boating is so huge. So thanks for all that you do. [00:41:10] Speaker A: All right, thanks for joining us, Peg, and thank you for our listeners. Tune in as we will continue the NDPA Water Safety Champion podcast all summer, summer long, talking to water safety champions all around the country. Until then, stay safe out there. And happy national Water Safety Month.

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