There's no reason not to wear a life jacket

It’s too hot! It doesn’t look cool. I know how to swim. Nothing is going to happen to me. These are just some of the many reasons people claim that they do not wear their life jackets.

But with approximately 700 people drowning each year from recreational boating accidents, it is imperative for you to wear your life jacket at all times while you are on the water. Life jackets are no longer the orange, hot and bulky life jackets that are commonly associated with on the water safety gear.

New innovations and developments in life jackets have produced a smaller, sleeker, and much more comfortable version of a life jacket, leaving you with no reason not to wear one. Life jackets are an essential part of your boating safety equipment and should be worn at all times while on the water.

Of the 709 recreational boating fatalities in 2008, over 89% of those victims were not wearing their life jackets. Life jackets are now lighter, less obtrusive and more attractive than ever before. The new inflatable life jackets allow you the mobility and flexibility that you need when boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

There are many different varieties of inflatable jackets ranging from those that inflate instantly when you hit the water to those that are manually inflated. All are designed to be more comfortable and wearable than the traditional life jacket.  

As part of the WEAR IT OHIO campaign, the Ohio Division of Watercraft will display all types of life jackets and demonstrate how to properly fit them at the North Coast Harbor Boating and Fishing Fest on June 5 and 6 at Voinovich Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is free and provides safety information, fishing and other displays. For more information, visit www.boatfest.com.

Accidents can happen at an alarming speed any place or anytime you are on the water. Although many boaters stow life jackets on their boat, very few choose to wear them. Wearing your life jacket will allow you to be safe in case of an accident and will also allow you the ability to assist others that may be in danger.

This year during National Safe Boating Week (May 22-28), and throughout the boating season, remember to practice safe and responsible boating, always wear your life jacket, and be alert and aware while on the water. Safe boating saves lives!

For more information on the National Safe Boating Council and the North American Safe Boating Campaign, visit www.SafeBoatingCouncil.org. Sections of this article are excerpts from the National Safe Boating Council Press Release.

For more information contact George Christ 440-871-3980.

George Christ is the coordinator of the West Cuyahoga Spirit of America Safe Boating Program.

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 1:29 PM, 04.17.2010