State urges boaters to wear life jackets during holiday weekend

September 3, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 3, 2011

Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s for Issaquah mean Labor Day weekend offers a chance for boaters to set sail before summer concludes.

Officials expect a busy holiday weekend on Washington waterways, so the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program reminds all boaters, especially personal water craft users, to wear a life jacket.

So far in 2011, 13 boating fatalities occurred in Washington. Only one boater involved in the accidents had been wearing a life jacket.

Under state law, boaters using personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis, must wear a life jacket.

“These vessels make quick turns, and boaters operating PWCs are looking for adventure that involves zipping around and are likely to end up in the water,” Seattle Police Department Harbor Unit Lt. Marc Olson said in a statement. “If you’re thrown off a PWC, you may get hurt, inhale water or be incapacitated by the shock of cold water. Any of these things can cause even a strong swimmer to struggle and drown. That is why life jackets are required.”

State law requires wakeboarders and people on all other towing devices, and children 12 years old and younger to wear life jackets. The law also requires a life jacket be carried for every person aboard any boat.

Violators face fines ranging from $87 to $138.

“Considering the widespread recognition of the life jacket laws and the grave consequences of disregarding these laws, we encourage zero tolerance for offenders,” State Parks Boating Law Enforcement Coordinator Mark Kenny said in a statement. “Life jackets are not only required by law, but they are life savers.”

The state offers more information about personal watercraft safety and laws for boaters. Or, call 360-902-8555.


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