The Fourth of July holiday means fun on the water for many Arizona families and the Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages everyone heading to area lakes to ensure they are wearing a life jacket while on the water.
“Putting on a life jacket is the first and often easiest step anyone can take to keep themselves safe when on the water,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. “There are comfortable options for all activities and all weather conditions. Set an example this weekend for your boat crew by wearing your life jacket and making sure you have a designated skipper to get everyone back to shore safe and sound.”
New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange-style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in approximately 68 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2014, and that approximately 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
“Every year families have to come to terms with a fun outing that turned into a tragedy, simply because someone isn’t wearing a life jacket,” Hoffman said. “It’s really quite simple: make sure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket – regardless of how old they are.”
Having life jackets not only provides immediate protection for the boater, but may save a boater from receiving a citation for not having their children in a life jacket. State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket available.
Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft such as a Sea Doo or Jet Ski also must wear a life jacket.
Those heading out on paddle boards, kayaks and canoes are also reminded that each are legally considered watercraft. Users are required to have a wearable PFD on board while on the water and must follow the same navigation laws pertaining to all watercraft.
For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.