• Family fun  and water safety go hand-in-hand on our local rivers. Each member of the family has on a properly fitting and properly donned lifejacket. Safe boating tip: File a boat plan with family and friends. Let them know where you are boating and when you expect to be back.

    It's all about me

    Family fun and water safety go hand-in-hand on our local rivers. Each member of the family has on a properly fitting and properly donned lifejacket. Safe boating tip: File a boat plan with family and friends. Let them know where you are boating and...

  • Happy faces in properly sized, properly donned lifejackets make for happier days spent on the river at Youghiogheny River. Safety tip: Always ensure lifejackets are the right size, even for your littlest boaters. Adult jackets do not fit and most likely will not save children.

    It's all about me

    Happy faces in properly sized, properly donned lifejackets make for happier days spent on the river at Youghiogheny River. Safety tip: Always ensure lifejackets are the right size, even for your littlest boaters. Adult jackets do not fit and most...

  • Park Rangers at Berlin Lake are issuing citations to children 12 and under. These citations are being issued for children "caught" on or near the water wearing their life jackets. The citation entitles the child caught wearing their life jacket to a free small ice cream cone. Safety tip: Take a safe boating class, most are free!

    It's all about me

    Park Rangers at Berlin Lake are issuing citations to children 12 and under. These citations are being issued for children "caught" on or near the water wearing their life jackets. The citation entitles the child caught wearing their life jacket to a...

Most days, I just drift along following the curves and bends I created after centuries of traveling the same path. Now that the sun is coming out more, my personality will change from cold and icy to more fluid and lively.

I have always attracted, even fascinated you.

In the early days, you would sit the banks watching me. You came to me for food, enjoyment and relaxations. Occasionally, on warm summer days, you would join me and drift along on rubber tubes or wooden crafts. Life was good, easy, even fairly safe. I was happy; some might say bubbly.

Now days you bring high speed motor crafts and unfortunately alcohol to me. Are you crazy? Do you know the only time you should mix me with alcohol should be in a glass when you don't have to drive? After all, I'm water or to be exact -- I'm a river. High-speed, watercrafts, alcohol and I can never co-exist; it's a recipe for disaster for you, and restless days and nights for me.

In 2013, the Coast Guard reported nearly 4,062 boating accidents with more than 560 fatalities. Now, this is a 13 percent decrease from last year. That makes me happy. But, do you know how sad and guilty I feel when even one of you dies? I'm a fresh water river, but I have become salty from my own tears from the loss.

In 77 percent of all fatal boating accidents, the victims drowned. The worst thing is 84 percent of you who died weren't wearing a life jacket. Believe me I understand, it's not exactly a fashion statement, although they are getting better, but it is called a life jacket for a reason; think about it.
Don't get me wrong--I enjoy your company. Most of you come out for a wonderful visit and good family fun. It's my pleasure to have you hang out, but when you bring alcohol it changes the game.

The Coast Guard says alcohol use is the leading contributing factor to boating fatalities.

When alcohol is in use, you drive too fast, and can miss the warning signs.

Just like I have changed the curves and the paths I follow, engineers have changed me too. I don't mind. Some of these changes have helped keep me from coming into your houses or backyards. Others, have improved local commerce, and therefore, improved the economy. But it's these changes that sometimes cause my visitors to lose their lives.

Now, the engineers that added locks and dams to me also added safety devices around these additions. Big signs, bright lights and floating buoys should warn you to changes in my patterns. If you're drinking or driving your boat too fast, you could miss these warning signs and make me sad.

I'm an old river. I'm here for you. When I'm happy, I sparkle a little brighter in the sun. I know you've seen me on a good day when I've been described as effervescent, but on days that when one of you dies in me -- the bubble is gone.

So, my request is completely selfish. It's all about me. I want to be happy. I want to stay a fresh-water river and not be tainted by my own tears. I don't like the taste of my salty tears. Can you be more careful, for my sake? Wear a properly-fitting life jacket, slow down on those motor crafts, and never mix water and alcohol.

Let's meet on sunny days and have some fun. Be safe and visit me often. See you soon.

Page last updated Wed May 21st, 2014 at 00:00