It may seem like an absurd question to ask, given that you're already comfortable living on a floating home, so chances are you are also comfortable in the water. However, research by Red Cross has shown that over half of all Americans (54%) cannot swim or do not have all the basic swimming skills. Moreover, not everybody who lives on a houseboat has done so all their life. Some may have joined a partner to live on the water recently, and may wonder how important swimming is to their safety and wellbeing.
Making the Most of your Houseboat
One of the reasons many people live on a houseboat is because they like being out at sea — i.e. sailing. If you are new to a houseboat then you will know that as the warmer seasons arrive, boat owners will usually set out to sea, prop a slide over the side of the boat and enjoy many refreshing swims. Not knowing how to swim takes some of the joys of owning a boat away. Even if you plan on staying below deck, you always need to be prepared to swim if needs be; for instance, if damage occurs to the boat or if you have to swim from the boat to another vehicle.
Swimming with Kids
If you have children or any kids will be boarding your houseboat, you need to know how to swim in case any accident should occur. Children can very quickly slip or take a jump in the water and you need to react quickly and confidently. Of course, any child on a boat will need to be wearing a protective life jacket, but your swimming skills should be up to scratch so you can get them back onboard if needs be.
You are Not Always in Control
As stated by legal experts Stewart Law Offices, some of the most common reasons for boating incidents include operator inexperience, reckless actions by drivers/passengers/skiers, and speeding. You essentially need all your faculties and abilities in peak condition when you head out. While there is no guarantee you can avoid accidents altogether, you can lower your risk to practically zero if you exercise good judgement and you are ready to plunge into the water and give anybody who has behaved recklessly a helping hand.
Where to Begin
It is easy to master the basics of swimming (such as flotation) in a few goes on your own, but having swimming lessons is advisable if you own a boat. Doing so will enable you to hone skills such as arm stroke, leg kick, breathing while swimming, etc. More importantly, your teacher can focus on elements that can take even seasoned swimmers by surprise, including strong currents and riptides. Finally, you should learn how to spot that someone is drowning. People sometimes mistakenly think that drowning looks dramatic or involves a lot of flailing of arms and screaming but in fact, it can be silent and take just seconds (especially in the case of children). Something as simple as silence, swimming with a tilted head, plunging, or even wall crawling along a surface can indicate that someone is drowning.
First Aid Classes
Drowning isn’t the only danger when swimming. Dangers include swimmer’s ear, tummy upsets caused by parasites, etc. You should read up on water-borne diseases so you can assist anyone on the boat (or yourself) if you have any symptoms. Swimming is important, but so, too, is first aid. You should complete a first aid course so you know how to rescue another person while also keeping your own safety in check.
Anyone who lives near the water should be confident in it. Swimming and first aid lessons alike will give you the ‘full pack’ you need to do so. Even if you never intend on being in the water, circumstances may force you to do so. Might as well learn to feel strong in the water and to enjoy one of the best things about living on the water: getting wet, especially in the long, hot summer.