GRDA recognizes National Safe Boating Week, promotes life jacket use.
Langley — Why is proper life jacket use so important?
According to the United States Coast Guard, drowning was the reported cause of death in 75 percent of all recreational boating fatalities in 2013 (latest statistics). And of those fatalities, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.
In other words, life jackets save lives.
To help promote their use, the Grand River Dam Authority is joining with the National Safe Boating Council to recognize the week of May 16-22 as National Safe Boating Week.
While safe boating is a priority all year long, this week – which precedes Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of boating season – is a great time revisit life jacket tips and also learn about the new models designed for different water-related activities.
The bulky jackets of yesteryear have been replaced with innovative new options like inflatable jackets that allow for much more mobility and flexibility while also keeping you cool in the hot Oklahoma sun.
It really does not matter what activity you are involved in – fishing, riding a personal watercraft, skiing, paddle boarding or even boating in cold weather – there is a life jacket designed just for that.
However, the most comfortable life jacket in the world does you no good if you are not wearing it.
That is why “Wear It!” is the simple reminder used to promote life jackets during National Safe Boating Week.
Before you hit the water this boating season (or anytime) keep these tips in mind, from the National Safe Boating Council and GRDA.
Life Jacket Tips For Boating:
- There are life jacket styles available for almost any boating activity.
- For cruising in an open motorboat: Comfort is key – choose a life jacket you’ll want to wear. For ages 16 and older, inflatable life jackets are a great option.
- For fishing: Vest-style life jackets come with features such as pockets and clips to replace the fishing vest and keep the angler safe.
- For personal watercraft and water sports: Inherently buoyant lighter-weight life jackets are rugged, with multiple buckles and clasps to keep them secure after impact with the water.
- For hunting and cold weather: Full coats and suits are available in camouflage colors for waterfowl hunting and for those who boat when air and water temperatures are cool.
- For paddling: Special life jackets are designed with large openings for arms to allow ease of movement.
- For children: Virtually all styles available are sized especially for children – some with cartoon characters, straps for pulling children from the water and high-visibility schemes.
- For pets: Life jackets are even available for our four-legged friends. It’s helpful to purchase one with a handle on top to easily pull your pet out of the water, if needed.
- No matter what the activity or style chosen, the most important thing is this: Remember to grab a life jacket and ‘Wear It!’
As you choose a life jacket to fit your needs, it’s also very important to make sure it fits you properly.
A jacket that is too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous.
On the other hand, jackets that are too small may not be able to keep your body afloat.
Also, please remember that life jackets meant for adult sized people do not work for children.
If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets based on their weight.
Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
Proper life jacket fitting guidelines:
- Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
- Make sure the life jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
- Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up.
- If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
- Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
- Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities. Read the label!
- Check your life jacket is in good serviceable condition, with no tears or holes. Test to make sure it works properly.
Please keep these in mind as you head to the water this summer and for more information on GRDA, our lakes, or water safety, visit us online at grda.com. You can also follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.
Above – GRDA Officer Derrick Bidleman throws a t-shirt to a young swimmer as a reward for getting “caught” wearing his life jacket on Grand Lake during Summer 2014. Year round, the GRDA Police Department promotes proper life jacket use. National Safe Boating Week (May 16 -22) is also a great time to pass along several tips about life jacket styles and proper fitting. The most important tip? Wear it!