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Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's National Safe Boating Week!

Next week is National Safe Boating Week. Sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council and the National Weather Service, this endeavor seeks to inform and remind boaters on the best practices to ensure boating safety. One of the key elements to a safe boating experience is to ensure life jackets are available to all on board, and worn by even the most experienced swimmers.

While statistics show that boating accidents are on the decline, the numbers still reflect an alarming number of incidences on U.S. waterways. In 2015, over 1,000 boating accidents were reported; the most frequent were due to collisions with other recreational vehicles, followed by collisions with a fixed object. There were 428 drowning deaths reported in 2015, and out of those accidents, 352 were not wearing life jackets.

A life jacket doesn’t just dramatically increase the chances of survival in an unexpected event, it also buys time. Falling into the water without a life jacket requires one to exert energy to keep afloat while awaiting assistance. Wearing a life jacket nearly eliminates expending that energy. Even experienced swimmers can become tired in the water or can suffer injuries that may make swimming difficult.
Fortunately, life jackets are easy to obtain and are fairly inexpensive. A really great resource is Dick’s Sporting Goods, which also offers tips on how to ensure you are buying the correct life vest for your body type and activity. You can read their recommendations on their website. 
Here are some additional reminders about life jackets, from the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • Double Check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities. Read the label!
  • Take the time to ensure proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small will not offer you complete protection. 
  • Check to ensure that your life jacket is in good, serviceable condition, with no tears or holes. Test it to make sure it works properly.
  • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets based on their weight. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to ‘grow into.’
Want to ensure you have all the required equipment, including life jackets, onboard your boat before getting underway? Download the new Coast Guard boating safety app and utilize the ‘Review Safety Equipment’ feature – depending on the size and propulsion equipment for your vessel, the app will create a customized list of what equipment is required onboard.

Have a safe and fun boating season!