DWP! Battle Royale - Brain Injury vs. Drowning

Posted by Brandon |

I need help settling an argument that Death? and I had last night at dinner.

Death? is all about wearing helmets when we ride our bicycles. She says that we have to wear them to not only protect ourselves but to also set a good example for kids who might see us out riding. She is such a goody-goody but it's also selfish. She doesn't want to have to clean up some kid who spilled his brains all over the pavement so she makes me wear my helmet. I agree with her, we should wear our helmets, but when I ride by myself I often go without.

On the other hand, she doesn't think that she needs to wear a life jacket when out kayaking in deep water and said that she wouldn't make her hypothetical 10 year-old child wear a life jacket if they knew how to swim. I, being a lousy swimmer who is a little afraid of water, think that everybody should be wearing their life jackets especially when out kayaking and especially if they are young children on a boat. No exceptions.

Now, my argument isn't so much with the actions themselves. I will wear my helmet, I have even taken off my life jacket when we've been out canoeing on Lake Washington. My argument is that the two are identical precautions to take. Riding a bicycle with a helmet on is the same thing as wearing a life jacket while out on the water. If you are whole heartedly in support of one, then you must be whole heartedly in support of the other.

A bike helmet will save your life if you take a nasty fall or if you get hit by a car or if you get into a fight with an idiot on a ten speed in a Discovery Channel spandex outfit. It may not save all of your bones and whatnot, but at least your brain will be intact.

A life jacket will save your life if you tip over your kayak and can't get back in or if you fall out of a boat or if you get into a fight with an idiot on a ten speed in a Discovery Channel spandex outfit who happens to have mob connections. If you are stupid enough to be out without a partner, then you may die of hypothermia or get so tired that you can't swim, but at least you are kept from drowning until someone can come and help.

All I'm saying is that being able to swim shouldn't be a reason to not wear your life jacket just like being able to ride a bike shouldn't be a reason to not wear your helmet. The danger is equal and the best way to limit the danger is the same. Seems pretty simple to me. But Death? doesn't see it that way, she doesn't think that the life jacket and the bike helmet are equal.

So which one of us is right? Do you wear or make your kids wear a bike helmet when riding or a life jacket when out on the water? Have you been beat up by a guy on a ten speed? Help us settle this argument once and for all.


kapgar said...

Oh they are most certainly one and the same. If she's going to be an advocate for bike helmets, she should also be in support of life jackets. My wife also agrees on this point. And, yes, we wear our bike helmets even though we do not yet have kids of our own. Just getting in the habit. The few times we've gone canoeing, we've worn life jackets as well.

Jesse said...

I don't think that they are entirely the same but that doesn't mean that your argument isn't valid. The difference is control. In the water, anyone who can swim will be able to exert some amount of control over the situation. There are extreme cases where that will be futile, i.e. shark attacks or the aforementioned hypothermia while alone, but those are probably the minority. I still consider those to be an element of control though, because if you're dumb enough to be out by yourself in a kayak in very cold waters or in shark infested waters then you deserve your fate. You don't have that same element of control on a bike. You hit something or something hits you and a half-second later you hit the pavement. In this case survival is based on that half-second impact and not on some prolonged activity. Someone could argue that people with good reflexes could "fall correctly" and soften the blow or cause it to miss vital organs but that's not very likely for most people.

Now the reason I still think they're similar is that you can still have the element of control taken away from you in the former. I can imagine a lot of boating accidents are quite violent, whether you hit something, you're thrown overboard by rapids or you capsize, the possibility to hit your head on something (just like on a biking accident) is most definitely there. That possibility makes the two accidents almost the same and makes wearing a life jacket more than worthwhile.

Actually, that last paragraph just made me realize that you should wear both while boating. Ha!