Fourth of July boating safety tip: Wear a life jacket!

July 3, 2013

Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This Fourth of July, thousands of people will enjoy boating. But, with approximately 500 people drowning each year from recreational boating accidents, the North American Safe Boating Campaign (http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/) reminds boaters of the importance of boating safety during this high-boating traffic holiday.

For some people, July 4 celebrations may be the only time they get on a boat the entire summer,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, a lead organization for the campaign. “Whether you’re an experienced or new boater, always boat responsibly and wear a life jacket.”

The campaign — simply known as “Wear It!” — encourages boaters to take the Boating Safety Pledge before July 4. The pledge allows boaters to share with others their dedication to boating safety and wearing a life jacket every time they are on the water. Boaters can sign and share the pledge via Facebook and Twitter by visiting http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/camp-pledge.htm.

Also, the campaign is looking for personal boating stories with a boating safety message through Labor Day weekend. Whether silly or serious, the best story will win a prize pack with a free life jacket. Boaters can submit stories online at http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/camp-share.htm.

Doug Ramey of Ontario, Canada, a previous contest winner, shared the story of the day he and his wife were stopped at a safety check while boating on Lake Muskoka. They passed with 100 percent compliance, and both were wearing life jackets.

Wearing a life jacket shouldn’t ever be an option,” said Ramey. “In my opinion, no one is too cool or too strong of a swimmer to excuse themselves from wearing a life jacket. A life jacket is one of the easiest ways you can save your life in case of emergency.”

The bulky orange-style life jacket is a thing of the past. Today’s life jackets offer comfort, style and flexibility. Some life jackets use inflatable technologies, and many inflate automatically when immersed in water.

The North American Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. It unites the efforts of a variety of boating safety advocates, including the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, Canadian Safe Boating Council and many members of the National Safe Boating Council.

Follow the campaign on Twitter at twitter.com/boatingcampaign and Like at facebook.com/SafeBoatCampaign.

From the July 3-9, 2013, issue

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