Boating safety advocates across North America are promoting safety and responsibility on the water during National Safe Boating Week, which always precedes the unofficial start of boating season on Memorial Day weekend.
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, which started last Saturday and continues through Friday.
“Each year hundreds of people lose their lives in boating incidences, and they may still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket,” National Safe Boating Council executive director Rachel Johnson said in a statement.
The National Safe Boating Council is the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign, a yearlong effort focused on boating safety that starts 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.
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.
New life jackets are much more comfortable, cool and lightweight than the bulky orange style most boaters know. Innovative options, such as inflatables, allow for mobility and flexibility during boating activities such as fishing, paddling or hunting.
“It’s important to encourage everyone on board the boat to wear a life jacket,” said John Johnson, executive director and CEO of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. “Accidents can happen too fast to put on a stowed life jacket.”
Throughout the year, the North American Safe Boating Campaign will also remind boaters to always maintain awareness of their surroundings and never boat under the influence. Campaign partners will host local events, teach classes, offer on-water training and perform free vessel safety checks.
The campaign offers a variety of free and paid resources to support local boating safety education efforts.
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 Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the Coast Guard.
For information and to follow the campaign on social media, visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.