Playing it safe while enjoying the water is the theme of National Safe Boating Week, scheduled from May 21-27.
One of the best ways to stay safe on the water is to wear a life jacket or personal floatation device and also to make sure that everyone boating with you does too.
A report released by the National Boating Safety Council for 2015 indicates that only about 23 percent of boaters, including operators of personal watercraft, wore life jackets. When you exclude the personal water craft operators from the report, the percentage of those wearing life jackets fell to 19.8 percent. The study was conducted by the John Snow Institute, a public health and safety research firm, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Drowning is a real possibility for boaters, and the likelihood of that happening could be substantially reduced if more people wore life jackets.
"It's tempting to boat without wearing a life jacket, especially on nice days," said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization of the Wear It! Campaign focusing on the importance of personal flotation devices. "A life jacket not worn can't save your life. Always Wear It!"
The National Safe Boating Council created a new public service announcement campaign, "Silly Humans," featuring Shaw Grigsby, Bassmaster Elite Series Angler and host of "One More Cast" on The Sportsman Channel. This light-hearted campaign follows two fish who think they are smarter than some humans, but they are no match for an accomplished angler who boats responsibly and wears a life jacket. "If you're not a fish, you've got to wear your life jacket," Grigsby said. You can watch the PSA at http://www.youtube.com/user/OutreachNSBC.
According to the survey, people are more protective of children, as 67.7 percent of youths age 17 and younger wore life jackets, but that rate is still too low when it comes to keeping kids safe. In Texas, life jackets are required by law for children age 13 and under while in or on a vessel.
In 2015, the Coast Guard reported 4,158 boating accidents nationwide that killed 626 people and injured 2,613 others. Where the cause of death was known, about 75 percent were caused by drowning. Of those who died, 85 percent were not wearing life jackets.
The BRA kicked off National Safe Boating Week on Saturday, May 21 with a Water Safety Awareness Day at Lake Granbury’s Rough Creek Park. More than 140 children received free life jackets as part of the event. The BRA expects to kick off next year’s Safe Boating Week in the same manner making the life jacket give away an annual event.
Boating offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment, and by taking important safety precautions, you can make the experience even better.