Harrisburg, PA Boating safety experts want to get something off their chest and
onto yours a life jacket. The importance of flotation devices and other watercraft
safety tips are the focus of the 2011 National Safe Boating Week, May 21-27.
This year during National Safe Boating Week, and throughout the entire boating
season, we are reminding boaters to practice safe and responsible boating, always wear
your life jacket, and be alert while on the water, said Laurel Anders, director of
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission s (PFBC) Bureau of Boating and Access.
By practicing these simple steps you can save your life as well as the lives of the
people boating with you.
Each year, on average, 700 people die in boating-related accidents nationwide. Nearly
80 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. In Pennsylvania, seven boaters
died in 2010 as a result of recreational boating accidents and only one of them was
wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident.
People tend to think of boating accidents in terms of collisions and that
is the most common type of reportable boating accident in Pennsylvania, adds Ryan
Walt, Boating Accident Review Officer for the PFBC. But the accidents where we have
fatalities are the ones where somebody falls overboard, or is swamped in a small boat and
then ends up drowning. Those are precisely the accidents where a life jacket can
make all the difference.
Walt emphasizes that life jackets are more comfortable, convenient and lightweight than
ever before. They come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit every person and
recreational opportunity. Inflatable life jackets are gaining in popularity because they
fit easily over any clothing, can be worn as a vest or belt-pack, and can be another
option in addition to more traditional buoyant life jackets.
National Safe Boating Week is scheduled each year as the first full week before
Memorial Day weekend, which is often thought of as the unofficial start of warm weather
and the boating season in Pennsylvania. Boaters should note that all boats must have a
U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) life jacket on board for each
person. In addition, children 12 years of age and younger must wear their life
jackets while underway on any boat 20 feet or less in length and on all canoes and kayaks.
Boaters can demonstrate their personal commitment to wearing a life jacket by visiting
the PFBC website and submitting the online Wear It Pennsylvania! pledge form.
The pledge form and a special video by PFBC Executive Director John Arway touting the
importance of life jackets can be found at: http://www.fishandboat.com/wear-it-message.htm.
In addition to taking the life jacket pledge, boaters can send in their life-saving
stories on how they were Saved By the Jacket at http://www.fishandboat.com/savelives.
To kick off National Safe Boating Week, the PFBC, state legislators, U.S. Coast Guard
and boating organizations will meet in the main rotunda of the state capitol complex on
May 18 at 11:15 a.m. for a special event in which participants will simultaneously
activate an inflatable life jacket in order to be counted in a national record-setting
campaign called Ready, Set, Inflate!. More information about the Ready,
Set, Inflate! campaign can be found at: http://www.readysetinflate.com/usa/.
As part of its safe boating campaign, the PFBC has created a special media resources
web page containing web banners and high resolution photos for graphic artists and
reporters to use in stories or as additional images on websites. The page also provides
15- and 30-second public service announcements for radio stations to use. The page is
located at: http://fishandboat.com/media-resources/wear-it-media/wear-it-media.htm.
For more information on boating safety, including information on taking a boating safety education course, visit
the PFBCs web site at www.fishandboat.com.