No life jacket? No excuses!

National Safe Boating Week is here! Check out Compass for the next seven days as we feature a different article on boating safety to launch the summer boating season of 2014!

lifejackets

This post originally appeared at Coast Guard Great Lakes and was written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin.

There are many excuses to why you can’t wear your life jacket, but are they worth your life or the life of a loved one? You want to get some sun, you’ll get too hot or it is too bulky and uncomfortable. But whether you’re going boating or going kayaking on a lake, there’s never an excuse not to wear a life jacket.

The Coast Guard recommends that you wear a life jacket at all times when recreating on the water. According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety’s Recreational Boating Statistics 2013, 560  boaters died in U.S. waterways during that calendar year with more than 77 percent of those deaths the result of drowning. Among those drownings, 84 percent of the drowning deaths involved victims who were known to not be wearing a life jacket.

The North American Safe Boating Campaign – simply known as “Wear It!” – has identified the top five excuses people give for not wearing a life jacket. Are these excuses worth your life or the life of a loved one?

1. “I have life jackets on board.”

Having life jackets on board the vessel is not enough; best to wear it all times to be safe. Accidents happen too fast on the water to reach for stowed life jackets.

2. “I’m a strong swimmer.”

Even a strong swimmer needs to wear a life jacket. During an emergency situation, clothing can become heavy or waterlogged while in the water.

3. “It’s too hot and doesn’t look cool.”

Life jackets don’t even have to be ‘jackets’ anymore. Old-fashioned, bulky orange life jackets have been replaced with new varieties of life jackets, like inflatable life jackets that may resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. These new styles are much cooler in the warmer weather and many inflate automatically when immersed in water.

4. “It gets in the way.”

There are life jacket styles available for almost any recreational water activity – fishing, water sports, hunting, paddling and more.

5. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”

Face it, accidents happen. Boating can be a fun and enjoyable activity and safe at the same time.

If you have said any of these phrases, take a moment to reconsider wearing that life jacket at all times. Boating responsibly and wearing a life jacket can help keep you and your loved ones safe, while still enjoying a great day on the water.

Rear Adm. Joe Servidio and Capt. Jon Burton with Coast Guard Prevention Directorate personnel from Auxiliary and Boating Safety, Inspections and Commercial Vessel Compliance Divisions promoting the "WEAR IT" day festivities. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Rear Adm. Joe Servidio and Capt. Jon Burton with Coast Guard Prevention Directorate personnel from Auxiliary and Boating Safety, Inspections and Commercial Vessel Compliance Divisions promoting the “WEAR IT” day festivities. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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