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 500 people drowning nationwide each year from recreational boating accidents, it is imperative to push the message of “Wear It!”- wear your life jacket at all times while you are on the water.
This year during National Safe Boating Week, and throughout the boating season, the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) is working with their partner organizations to encourage safe and responsible boating, including the practice of always wearing a life jacket, and being alert and aware while on the water. Safe boating saves lives so for this year’s North American Safe Boating Week (May 21–27, 2011) and throughout the boating season remember to WEAR IT!
“Boating can be a fun, safe and enjoyable activity, but when the “Wear It!” message is ignored, the consequences can be grim,” says Virgil Chambers, Executive Director of the National Safe Boating Council. “And yet, year after year, we continue to see boaters who choose to go without wearing a life jacket.”
In 2009, drowning was the reported cause of death in almost three-fourths of all boating fatalities. Of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing their life jackets. That’s why boating safety advocates continue to push for increased and consistent life jacket wear on the water. Life jackets are now lighter, less obtrusive and more attractive than ever before. The new inflatable life jackets allow the mobility and flexibility for activities like 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 submerged in the water to those that are manually inflated. All are designed to be more comfortable and wearable than the traditional life jacket.
“We want to prove that life jackets not only save lives, but that today’s life jackets are comfortable, stylish and easy to wear,” says John Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). “In fact, they don’t even have to be ‘jackets’ anymore. The old-fashioned, bulky orange life jacket most people are used to has been replaced with innovative new options we want all boaters to know about, including the new inflatable styles.”
“Life jackets today not only look cool and feel more comfortable, even on those hot summer days, but – most importantly – they’re saving lives,” Chambers says.
The North American Safe Boating Campaign unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates, including NASBLA, the Canadian Safe Boating Council and the many members of the National Safe Boating Council. The campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Partners hold local events, teach classes, distribute educational materials and perform free Vessel Safety Checks, among other activities.
About the National Safe Boating Council
The National Safe Boating Council represents over 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations committed to reducing boating accidents and enhancing the boating experience. Visit www.SafeBoatingCampaign.com for campaign materials and additional safe boating resources.