Weeks Discusses Water Safety at Hamilton Rotary Club

This afternoon, PLP MP for Constituency #16 and chairperson of Bermuda’s water safety council Michael Weeks delivered a speech about water safety at the Hamilton Rotary Club, at his first time at the club.

Mr. Weeks’ speech began by providing a broad definition of what water safety entails. “Water safety refers to the procedures, precautions and policies associated with safety in, on or around bodies of water,” he explained.

He then touched upon Bermuda’s vast boating history; dating back to when the Sea Venture wrecked near the island in 1609 and Bermuda being founded and “born” as a result; to 1846 when the Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse became operational and greatly prevented shipwrecks; to as recently as a few months ago, when the island hosted one leg of the SailGP boat race in the Great Sound.

“As we can see, boating has been an integral part of Bermuda’s history for centuries, but water safety is not just about boating,” Mr. Weeks said. “Water safety in terms of boat operation and the rules of the water should be taught from a very young age; I venture to say from as early as primary school.”

In a previous press conference, Mr. Weeks touched upon the need for all operators of marine vessels on the island to take a mandatory boaters’ competence exam. Everyone who passes the exam will receive a boater’s card, which in turn will give them permission to operate a vessel on Bermuda’s waters.

“ Just as someone goes to TCD to take an examination and must pass it before driving a motor vehicle, the same will be the case for any marine vessel, pleasure craft, etc.,” he explained. “ This competence exam will not only ensure marine safety education, but also help reduce the amount of marine incidents yearly. Boating is a pleasure for most locals and visitors to the island, and being a competent boat operator, an individual will have confidence and show vigilance [while on the water] at all times.”

Mr. Weeks then offered some safety tips for people driving on Bermuda’s waters; including checking the weather conditions before even planning the trip or outing, followed by making sure that the vessel is actually seaworthy and safe for passengers and crew.

Some other helpful tips he offered was for boat operators to give their float plan to Bermuda Radio or a responsible individual, to make sure that all required equipment (life preservers, life jackets, navigation lights, etc.) are on the boat, to be courteous to other mariners, and especially to refrain from operating any and all marine vessels while under the influence of alcohol.

“ All marine incidents should be reported to police (channel 16) and Bermuda Radio (channels 16 and 27),” he said. “ I implore all mariners to be vigilant of your surroundings in and on the water at all times.”

Mr. Weeks then moved on to beach safety and, on behalf of the entire water safety council, advised everyone to be vigilant while on the beach and also praised lifeguards for their efforts during this busy season.
“ Incidents of drowning in our seas, while thankfully, is not a regular occurance, regrettably can and does occur,” he said.

“Disposal of trash in our seas causes issues for our boating community, swimmers and marine life and also desecrates the beautiful aesthetic we have come to love and enjoy.”
Mr. Weeks also urged people to be watchful of pool areas, as many children under the age of eight have drowned in pools in the U.S. just within the past week.

“ Here again, water safety is vital. Instructing children how to operate in a pool, the do’s and don’ts of pool activity, life-saving and courtesy to all pool users is extremely important,” he added.

Mr. Weeks also discussed water tanks and strongly urged homeowners to be aware of their surroundings and ensure that there are no small children or pets lingering near an open water tank, as the results could be disastrous.

The final aspect of water safety that Mr. Weeks talked about was something that isn’t necessarily thought of as a hazard too often; buckets of water.

“Research shows that babies or small children can drown in a half-filled bucket of water,” he said. “ So we at the council say to you please do not maintain standing water near your houses from both a health and safety perspective, particularly if you have small children in your home or space.”

“ All of Bermuda can have an enjoyable time on the water; whether boating, beaching, swimming, or lounging around their homes,” he continued. “ Water safety must be a number-one priority.”
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