August 02, 2006

Wearing Life Jackets Save Lives

With boating season in full swing, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is reminding America's boaters that if all boaters would wear a life jacket, over 80 percent of boating fatality victims would instead be alive to boat another day.

Boating accidents can and do happen with terrifying speed on the water. There is rarely time to reach for stowed life jackets.

While some of the more inexpensive life jackets that boaters buy to meet the mandatory standard for life jackets carried onboard are bulky and uncomfortable, effective Coast Guard Approved life jackets are now available in a variety of styles that are not only comfortable, but fashionable. Many are thin and flexible. Some are built right into fishing vests or hunter coats. Others are inflatable — as compact as a scarf or fanny pack until they hit water, when they automatically fill with air.

Life jackets come in all sizes, and it is important, especially when children are boating, for each boater to wear a correctly fitting personal flotation device. Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. Special life jackets are available. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child's chin or ears to slip through. To give an analogy, that's why we have infant seats and child booster seats in cars, instead of ineffectively and dangerously strapping our toddlers in with adult seat belts.

The Auxiliary reminds all recreational skippers that as a boat operator, you're in command of the safety of your passengers. Make sure all aboard are wearing a proper life jacket before you shove off.

There's no excuse not to wear a life jacket on the water!

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, volunteer Component of Team Coast Guard who assist the active duty Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary in 1941. Its over 31,000 members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.

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