I was saddened to read another story about a preventable drowning ["Widow: Make life vests a law," News, June 1]. As an avid kayaker, I can provide some facts that few people consider when they get in a small watercraft without a life jacket.
Statistically, seemingly harmless small craft such as kayaks, canoes and rafts are very dangerous even in mild conditions. Why? They are very easy to fall out of, and very difficult to get back in to. I discovered this myself when first learning to paddle. Luckily, I was close to shore. Your ability to swim will not help you for very long, and drowning happens very quickly.
Having a life jacket "nearby" may not help. It can float away while you are figuring out what to do. Then you get to choose whether to chase your life jacket, save yourself, or save someone who really needs help, such as a child. It is for this reason that flight attendants stress the importance of having your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others. If you are helpless, you can't help save anyone.
Perhaps life jackets should be mandated by law, but people would likely ignore the new law, just as they ignore many laws. More important than legislation is education. Hopefully someone will read this, make the smart decision to wear a life jacket, and stress the importance to all others in the boat.
Michael Callahan, Glen Cove