Boaters enjoying sunshine should remember life jackets

May 11, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. May 11, 2011

Sunshine and temperatures in the upper 60s could appear in Issaquah soon, prompting boaters to set sail on Lake Sammamish.

Experts from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission reminds boaters to use life jackets and know boating laws.

Each year, a majority of boating deaths result from drowning, and a majority of the deceased had not been wearing life jackets.

Officials recorded 18 boating fatalities statewide last year. Wearing a life jacket can prevent many boating-related deaths.

The commission’s Boating Program recommends safety tips:

  • Wear approved life jackets: State law requires all vessels (including nonmotorized watercraft) carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board.
  • Vessels 16 feet or longer must have one Coast Guard-approved throwable personal flotation device aboard.
  • People on board personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis, and water skiers must wear life jackets.
  • Children ages 12 and younger must wear life jackets aboard vessels less than 19 feet long.
  • Check life jackets for tears, wear and proper fit. Life jacket sizing is based on body weight and chest size, and children often grow out of life jackets from season to season.

If boaters do not have the required number of life jackets aboard their vessels, life jackets the state offers life jackets for the day or weekend use at no cost at many boat launches, marinas and state parks across Washington.

The state is seeking boating clubs, public safety agencies and other civic organizations interested in establishing a life jacket loaner site at public boat launches or marinas. Call Washington State Parks at 360-902-8555 for assistance. The state has limited funding to provide life jackets and materials at no cost to help establish a public loaner site in time for boating season.

Many marine law enforcement agencies have adopted a zero-tolerance approach for boats without sufficient life jackets, and could issue citations.

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