The California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) encourages life jacket wear during spring break and as the season starts to thaw out from the winter. Of the fatalities that occurred in 2009, 67 percent of the victims drowned. Of that group, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
“Boating is a big part of spring break celebrations and the changing of the seasons, and there’s no reason why everyone can’t have fun on the water while also choosing to wear a life jacket,” said DBW Director Raynor Tsuneyoshi. “Today’s life jackets are technologically advanced, making them more convenient and less restrictive.”
Knowing how to swim is one of the most common reasons given for not wearing a life jacket and gives boaters a false sense of security, according to DBW. Often the victim has a serious injury or is knocked unconscious and cannot swim. Other factors that can affect swimming ability include cold water immersion, heavy clothes or alcohol consumption.
DBW would also like to remind boaters about some life jacket laws that can save their lives:
- A new boating law states that children “under age 13” must wear a life jacket when on a vessel that is 26 feet or less in length. Violators found guilty of this infraction face a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). The old law required that children “under 11 years” of age or under wear a life jacket.
- Every person on board a personal watercraft and any person being towed behind a vessel must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- No person can operate any vessel, water skis or similar device under the influence of drugs or who has an alcohol level of .08 percent or more.
Boaters interested in further information about life jackets or other boating laws, can visit http://www.dbw.ca.gov/ or call (888) 326-2822.