May 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Go Without A Lifejacket

PHOENIX — In preparation for the upcoming boating season, the Coast Guard Auxiliary wants to remind the boating public and others who live, work or play around the water: Friends don't let friends go without a lifejacket.

Whether you plan to go fishing, hunting, water skiing, wakeboarding or just want to enjoy a day on or around the water, the single most import thing you can do to prevent a tragedy is to "just wear it."

 The statistics are fairly consistent in that each year, between 80 and 90 percent of those who die in a boating accident drown. An overwhelming number of these drowning victims were not wearing lifejackets.

Most boating safety experts believe that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented, if only the droning victim had simply been wearing a properly fitted life jacket.

 Wearing a lifejacket on a boat is akin to wearing a seat belt in your car. Just as you shouldn't start your journey in you car without buckling up, you need to wear your lifejacket anytime you are on or near the water.

While the law requires most children to "just wear it," there are no rules for wearing life jackets for adults. In fact, the life-jacket-wear rate for adults is believed to be somewhere around 5 percent, far below the wear rate for seatbelts.

The life jackets of old were bulky and uncomfortable, but today, there are many styles from which to choose, including inflatable lifejackets, that offer a maximum amount of comfort and buoyancy.

 The Coast Guard Auxiliary urges all boaters, including sailors and paddlecraft operators, to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times when on or near the water. Moreover, so that they can be prepared to deal with emergencies, such as a person falling overboard, it is strongly recommended that they take a boating-safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

To find a boating safety class in your area, call 1-877-875-6296, or visit .