Saved by the Jacket

When it happens, it happens fast.

Drowning is silent most of the time and can happen before anyone realizes what is going on. And according to the U.S. Coast Guard's 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics, 86% of drowning victims in 2020 were not wearing a life jacket. And in that same year, Texas ranked #2 among the top-ranking states for reported boating deaths and #3 for reported boating accidents. That year, there were a reported 59 boating deaths and 281 boating accidents in the state of Texas alone.

While many factors are involved in boating accidents, drowning is 100% preventable when the proper safety measures are taken. Wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved jacket is the simplest and best life-saving strategy for anyone who spends time on the water.

Summer is right around the corner, which means the traffic on the water will increase rapidly. Since May is National Water Safety Month, it's the perfect time to be proactive about your child's safety this summer—and we want to help.

From 10 a.m. to noon on May 7 at DeCordova Bend Park and 10 a.m. to noon on May 21 at Hunter Park, the BRA is hosting a free event for families to meet a lake ranger, receive a free child's life jacket (while supplies last) and enjoy the beauty of Lake Granbury.

When you arrive at these events, there will be a tent with a team of BRA staff to offer your kid a free life jacket, answer any questions you may have about Lake Granbury and give you bags of fun, educational goodies for the kids (and great water safety info for parents as well)! Even if you don't need a life jacket, the BRA staff will be happy to answer questions. If you need clarification on how to clean, drain and dry watercraft to prevent the spread of invasive species, Texas boating laws and No Wake laws, stop by and have your questions answered. You can also pick up a free lake map!

And, of course, everyone is welcome to enjoy the park after the event and make a day out of the event. Both Hunter Park and DeCordova Bend Park have boat launching ramps, accessible fishing piers and restrooms, and shaded picnic tables and grills. DeCordova Bend Park also has a designated swimming area.

But before you head towards the water for the day, we'll make sure that your kids are fitted with a properly sized life jacket.

Sizing for children's life jackets is different than adults. Their fit depends on weight rather than the chest size. So, it's vital that children wear life jackets designed for them, not adults.

Buying a life jacket for your child to "grow into" can put them in danger while they are near the water. Our lake rangers will be available to help select a properly fitting life jacket, so you can walk away knowing that your child is ready to go on the water safely.

Have questions about life jackets for adults? Here's what you need to know.

Life jackets must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and fit the person wearing them. You may see a new label inside newer life jackets with a performance level icon. Life jackets with the new label are approved for use in the U.S. Your older life jackets are still good to use if they are in good condition and appropriate for the activity you are enjoying.

To make sure that it fits, put on the life jacket, and fasten the straps. Then, hold your arms straight up over your head and ask a friend to grasp the top of the arm openings and gently pull the jacket up. The life jacket shouldn't slip past your ears and should fit snugly. Life jackets that are too big will push up around your face, and life jackets that are too small will not be able to keep you afloat.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it's the state law that on recreational vessels under 26 feet in length when underway (including drifting or not at anchor) that all children under 13 years old must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. But the law also states adults must have a properly fitting life jacket that is easily accessible. The Water Safety Code states all vessels, including canoes, paddle craft, and kayaks must be equipped with one USCG-approved wearable PFD for the activity taking place for each person on board.

If you are spending the day at Lake Granbury, the BRA and Cooks Children's Hospital are coordinating with the City of Granbury to provide life jackets at loaner stations at Lake Granbury's City Beach, in Glen Rose and soon at Lake Granbury's Sandy Beach. You can check out a life jacket and return it to the station at the end of the day.

We hope you'll join us on either of these dates for some water safety tips, a free kid's life jacket, and some good times by the water. For more information on the life jacket giveaway, call the Lake Granbury Office at 817-573-3212. Or you can send us an email at information@brazos.org, and we'd be happy to answer your questions. 

DeCordova Bend Park: 7620 Rainey Court, Granbury, TX (located right by the dam)

Hunter Park: 2800 Weatherford Highway, Granbury, TX

(From U.S. 377 in Granbury, take Business 377, turn north on F.M. 51 and look for park signs.)