Did you know that there are more than 11 million recreational vessels are registered in the U.S.? That means more and more Americans are enjoying their time in and on the water.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,291 boating incidents that resulted in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and about $46 million in property damage in 2017. It is important that you are prepared and using the correct equipment, no matter what type of vessel you are using – driving or riding in a motorized boat or paddling a canoe or kayak – and making sure you have the right life jacket is essential.
Whether you are in a motorized boat or a kayak, a life jacket is at the core of safe boating. It is reported by the U.S. Coast Guard that in 2017 76% of boating deaths were due to drowning, and 84% of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Most know that the regulations on life jacket use vary from state to state. The National Safe Boating Council’s “Wear It” program encourages all boaters to wear a life jacket any time they are on motorized or non-motorized boat.
Even if you are a good swimmer, you need a life jacket. When someone falls off a boat, they could become unconscious, disoriented or injured, and the life jacket will keep their heads above water so they can breathe and more easily be rescued. Every child should be wearing a life jacket at all times when they are boating. Finally, no matter your age or boating experience level, the data shows that life jackets do save lives. Accidents happen to quickly to be reaching for a stowed vest, you should always have one on.
Make sure you choose the right life jacket for the activities you will be doing on the water. You should double check the life jackets to make sure they are U.S. Coast Guard approved and fit correctly:
- Make sure the life jacket is the appropriate size for your weight and size.
- Make sure you’ve properly fastened the jacket.
- Put your arms straight over your head, ask someone to grab the tops of the arms and gently pull up; you should make sure there is no extra room above the openings and that the jacket does not ride up over your face or your chin.
National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28, 2021. Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP encourages all boaters to always wear a life jacket while they are on the water.