RALEIGH, N.C. (April 28, 2017) — Last year, 17 boaters lost their lives on North Carolina waters. None of them were wearing a life jacket. The seconds that it takes to put on a life preserver may well have been the difference between life and death.
Wearing a life jacket is a simple safety precaution that can prevent tragedy from happening in the event of an accident. To increase boating safety awareness this season, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission introduces the new “Preserve Your Life” campaign.
As part of the Preserve Your Life campaign, wildlife enforcement officers will hand out coupons that can be redeemed for discounts on life jackets at selected retailers throughout the boating season. Participating retailers include Overton's, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, Great Outdoor Provision Co., Chatlee Marine and REI (Cary and Durham locations only). Also, as in years past, wildlife officers will conduct pre-launch safety checks at boating access areas across the state.
In an effort to promote life jacket usage, the Commission urges boaters to join in the “Ready, Set, Wear It!” event on May 20. The event aims to break last year’s world record of 6,784 participants wearing a life jacket in one day. If you’d like to participate, visit http://www.readysetwearit.com.
Finally, boaters should be on the lookout for the “Life Jacket Zone” at boat ramps throughout the state. The Life Jacket Zone is a reminder to you and your passengers to put on a life jacket whenever you’re on the water.
“It’s important to put on your life jacket before heading out on the water,” said Maj. Chris Huebner of the Wildlife Resources Commission. “Even the strongest of swimmers can be incapacitated during an accident. In dire situations, there often isn’t time to grab a life vest and put it on properly. It can it save your life and can help you assist others who may be in danger.”
Life jackets have seen drastic design improvements over the years. Newer models are not the bulky, hot floatation devices that some boaters remember. In fact, many life jackets are designed for specific activities such as fishing, water sports and even hunting. These specialized floatation devices grant the user the freedom to enjoy their day on the water in comfort.
Both North Carolina and federal regulations state that a personal floatation device in good condition and of appropriate size should be accessible for each person onboard a recreational vehicle. North Carolina requires anyone younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest when on a recreational vessel. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must also wear an appropriate life vest.
There’s no reason to not wear a life jacket. In the end, your life may literally depend on it.
For more information on safe recreational boating or to enroll in a free boating education course by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, go to http://www.ncwildlife.org/Boating.aspx or call 919-707-0030.
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