Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse Safety

The Place: Peggy’s Cove
The Treasure: Beautiful views of a powerful ocean

I want to start off clearly stating our condolences for anyone that has lost someone to the ocean at Peggy’s Cove and well wishes to those recovering who fell in and were rescued. It is not my intention to belittle or diminish what happened to them there.

Within a fairly short time of each other two people strayed outside of the safe areas at Peggy’s Cove and ended up in the ocean – one encounter was fatal.

Family members or friends have both have called for better safety measures and have written MLAs.

The problem I have with their proposals is that they, in general: ruin the natural beauty,  provide a false sense of security,  are costly or put more people in danger – or a combination of these.

These are my thoughts on what has been proposed by friends and family of people who have fallen in:

One of the most common solutions is to put up a fence. Problem here, in my opinion, is if you put up a small fence or rope fence it will be too small and people climb over it – it also ruins the view. If you put up a big fence it ruins the view more. Either proposal ruins the many iconic photos people take of Peggy’s Cove. The fences will rust, the ocean will see to that. People will find ways around the fences and put themselves at risk.

Another proposal was to put safety devices such as life preservers or flotation devices that could be thrown in to people that fall in. This would be, in my opinion, unworkable and dangerous. Those items can’t be thrown far (try it!) and in order to get them to a person in the water the person throwing would be putting themselves in GREAT danger, likely having to get closer than where the person that fell in was. Any kind of power launcher would require special training, staff, and safe areas to keep it. Trained monitor and rescue boats – costly and would require 24/7 staffing. A rescue boat in the area where people are expected to be would put the boat operators in danger – an unmanned boat would be quickly destroyed on the rocks.

People falling in to the water in Peggy’s Cove is fairly rare, certainly two within a short time. There are some fairly telling things in the interviews with friends and family.

I’ll focus more on the friend of the survivor out of respect for the family of the person that died – I will, however, point out that the mother the person that died said she clearly saw the signs.

From the article at:

“There was about 150 people at Peggys Cove at this time,” he said.(James Rubec)

That means 150 people did not get pulled in to the ocean at that moment, who knows how many don’t per day.

“Rubec said he saw two warning signs, one cautioning about heavy water and another by a lighthouse”

Signs acknowledged.

“I had to go look for them to find them and one of the …signs was covered by grass and not very obvious to see,” he said.

Before? After? One sign was covered and not obvious but the other was visible.

“Unless you know that, it’s too dangerous for you to get there, and it’s the responsibility of, I don’t know exactly who,” he said.

Here is where I get frustrated. This is the definition of not taking personal responsibility. The responsibility is on the INDIVIDUAL. They go to areas clearly described as dangerous and something happen, but it’s not their fault because… Well, there is no because. They strayed in to the area warned about, the consequences are theirs.

“He said there needs to be barricades around the parking lot to prevent people from just jumping on the rocks without being informed of the dangers. There should also be a rescue boat available whenever people are expected to be on the rocks.

“And if that’s not there, then that should not be a tourist location,” Rubec said.”

Again with respect to his injured friend and those that have lost loved ones – if you can’t obey the rules and signs that are there for your safety – whether at Peggy’s Cove or elsewhere, you should not be there, the tourist attraction should be there because a great number of people (150 at the moment it happened by his account) can and were enjoying it safely.

“There are hundreds of tourist locations around the world that are actually inherently dangerous, just like Peggys Cove, but Peggys Cove is really the only one that I’ve ever seen that doesn’t have that sort of facility, doesn’t have the sort of personnel. It doesn’t have the sort of equipment to save people regularly.”

There is always better, there is always worse. Has he seen these sites or is it simple something he made up in the heat of the moment – I’d be curious to see his verified as visited list. There is no equipment there because it is not a regular event – it is a rarity, just so happens these two incidences occurred close together because people choose to put themselves in harm’s way.

Peggy’s Cove is not inherently dangerous. There are dangers at Peggy’s Cove – big difference. With any known danger there are safe ways to do things and unsafe – people sometimes choose unsafe.

Look at it this way: l come to a busy street. Not wall to wall cars but busy. I see the safe area, a crosswalk, 50 feet away. I choose to ignore the safe area and cross where I am because I judge it to be safe. I get hit. That is my fault. I don’t blame the driver, I don’t ask for fences along the road, I don’t ask for an ambulance to be near by in case I get hit anywhere I choose to unsafely cross the road, I don’t ask for police to be stationed everywhere telling me to use crosswalks. If I am with a friend or loved one and they want to cross in an unsafe manner I would tell them we should cross in a safe area, I’d hope they would do the same for me.

We give the ocean personality traits not because it’s factual but because we understand it. It is vengeful, it is angry, it is calm, it is beautiful. It is as familiar as family and we respect it. Many of us have lost loved ones or know people that have lost loved ones to the ocean – people that were our their doing their jobs. That is inherent danger, choosing to go outside of safe areas is not – That is placing yourself, willfully, in danger.

The only thing I can really get behind is better signage. Although I feel what’s in place, as well as the verbal warnings from restaurant staff and tourist operators already give, are adequate. However that signage shouldn’t impact the views and picturesque landscape that is Peggy’s Cove.

As a person that runs a tourism blog and has a deep love for Nova Scotia it pains me to say this, but: If you can’t respect the tourist attractions and follow simple, visible signs that are there for your safety than stay home.  Your disregard for safety and your lack of personal responsibility will spoil what we have and have loved for decades.

The solution to staying safe is awareness and personal responsibility.

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