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Arizona - Public Swaps 300 Old Life Jackets For New

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) swapped more than 300 old and tattered life jackets with new ones during life jacket exchange events at area lakes this summer.

The AZGFD Boating Safety Education program helped to ensure 304 people were safer on the water by swapping old, less-effective life jackets for new ones during visits to Lake Havasu, Saguaro Lake, Lake Pleasant, Lake Powell and Canyon Lake.

Check PFDs Every Season

"This program makes it possible for boaters to exchange old or incorrectly sized life jackets for brand new, fully functioning life jackets in the appropriate size," said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education program coordinator. "Our hot and dry climate in Arizona is harsh on life jackets, making it very important to check them for wear and tear every season. And don't forget: just because the life jacket fit last year is no guarantee it will fit next year."

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in approximately 76 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2015 and that approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Just as important as wearing a life jacket is ensuring it is the correct size and fit. Users should refer to the manufacturer's label on the life jacket, which should include a recommendation for the user's size and weight.

To make sure the life jacket is worn properly, keep in mind:

A life jacket should fit snugly.It shouldn't rise more than 1.5 inches when lifting it up on a child.

Raise both arms straight up and if the life jacket hits your chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.

You should also be able to fit your fingers in the back of the life jacket on a child. If you can't, then it's likely too tight.

All boats in Arizona must have a life jacket aboard for every passenger and those 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times, under state law.

All Watercraft Need PFDs On Board

Those also utilizing paddle boards, kayaks and canoes are reminded that each is considered watercraft and users are legally required to have a wearable personal flotation device on board and to follow all navigation rules while on the water.

The department began the life jacket exchange program in 2008 to help save lives and to encourage watercraft users to remain safe on the water. The program is funded through U.S. Coast Guard funding to purchase new jackets in a variety of sizes.

For more information on boating in Arizona, to sign up for a safety course and for a video on properly fitting a life jacket, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/boating.


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