life_jacket_exchange_2_-_reduced_1Dozens of boat and watercraftusers are better prepared for the upcoming boating season ater exchanging their old, worn out life jackets for new ons through the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s life jacket exchange program.

AZGFD Boating Safety Education program exchanged 138 life jackets Saturday, April 9 at the Lake Havasu Boat Show.

“Life jackets are critical for everyone heading out on the water,” said Boating Safety Education Coordinator Josh Hoffman. “It’s something you will never be able to get on fast enough if you find yourself in trouble. That is why you should make sure your life jacket is as buoyant as possible. A newer jacket is less likely to fail when you need it most.”

On average, the typical life jacket in Arizona should be replaced every three to five years because the sun and heat greatly reduce its buoyancy.

Life jacket exchanges are held several times during the spring and summer at many of the state’s popular lakes, where the public can swap older, less-effective ski-vest wearable life jackets for new ones.

The next exchanges are scheduled May 21 as the official kick-off of National Safe Boating Week. Exchanges will held at Lake Havasu, Lake Pleasant, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake.

The department began the life jacket exchange program in 2008 to help save lives and to encourage watercraft users to remain safe on the water. The program is funded through a U.S. Coast Guard grant to purchase new jackets in a variety of sizes.

All boats in Arizona must have a life jacket aboard for every passenger and those 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times, under state law.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

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