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Press Release

National Safe Boating Week Focuses on Life Jacket Wear

May 19, 2003

            Recreational boaters and their passengers can greatly increase their chances of surviving serious accidents by wearing a life jacket while boating. It’s not enough to have it on board -- boaters must wear it to save their lives. This is the key message of National Safe Boating Week (May 17-23, 2003), produced by the National Safe Boating Council in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and through a grant from the Aquatic Resources (Wallop-Breaux) Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

This event is part of the nationwide 2003 North American Safe Boating Campaign. “Boat Smart. Boat Safe. Wear It!” is the 2003 campaign theme that organizations across the country will be promoting.

According to the latest Coast Guard statistics, nearly 80 percent of those who died in boating accidents in 2001 were not wearing life jackets, even though in many cases there were life jackets on board.

"The wearing of life preservers would certainly lower the boating fatality rate in Alabama.  With the approval of the inflatable life preservers, the comfort level of wearing a life preserver has greatly improved,” said William Garner, Director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Police Division.

Alabama law requires children less than eight years of age to wear life preservers when they are passengers on boats.  The law also requires the wearing of life preservers by persons operating within 800 feet below a hydroelectric dam.

The NSBC says although boating fatalities and injuries have declined over more than two decades, the numbers remain high: 681 dead in 2001. The latest statistics emphasize the speed and suddenness of a

accidents. Two-thirds of all reported recreational boating fatalities in 2001 involved capsizing and falls overboard.

“Many boaters don’t wear their life jackets while on the water because they think they will have plenty of time to put them on in an emergency situation,” said Rear Admiral Jeffrey J. Hathaway, Director of Operations Policy, United States Coast Guard. “The reality is there is no time to find your life jacket when you suddenly find yourself in an unexpected predicament. By being safer and smarter on the water, we also allow law enforcement officials to concentrate on Homeland security duties. Make sure that you and your passengers always wear your life jacket when on the water. So, boat smart. Boat safe. Wear It!”

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