PRATT – What looks like a perfect day for boating can quickly become hazardous if someone ends up in the water. Boating safety advocates across the United States and Canada have teamed up to promote safe and responsible boating – including consistent life jacket wear every time boaters are on the water – during National Safe Boating Week, held from May 20-26, 2017.
“Each year hundreds of people lose their lives in boating incidents, but they may still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket,” said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC). NSBC is the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign, a yearlong effort focused on boating safety that kicks off annually with National Safe Boating Week.
“It’s not enough to just own a life jacket and store it on a boat, you must wear it,” Johnson said.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Today’s life jackets are more comfortable, cooler and lighter than the bulky orange jackets most boaters are familiar with. Innovative options, such as inflatables, allow for mobility and flexibility during boating activities such as fishing, paddling or hunting.
Kansas law requires all youth 12 and younger to wear life jackets when on a boat, but lives can be saved if everyone onboard wears a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
“Being a strong swimmer is no excuse to not wear a life jacket. An incident can happen in less than a second when you are least prepared for it, and a life jacket can be the difference between surviving that incident or potentially losing your life,” said Chelsea Hofmeier, Boating Education coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). “Getting your Kansas Boater Safety Education Certification is another way to ensure your boating days are safer and more enjoyable,” Hofmeier added.
The Kansas Boater Safety Education course is offered three ways – home study packet, online and classroom. Go to www.ksoutdoors.com, click on “Boating,” then on “Boating Education” to learn more.
The North American Safe Boating Campaign unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates and is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information and to follow the campaign on social media, please visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.