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Arizona Game & Fish Stresses Boating Safety

A "Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day"and an OUI checkpoint were held in late May, readying boaters for the summer season just ahead.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, together with boating professionals and enthusiasts nationwide, demonstrated the importance of remaining safe on the water by participating in Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on May 19.

The annual event, hosted by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) serves as a fun, educational element ahead of National Safe Boating Week, which ran this year from May 20 to May 26. The event helps to raise awareness of different life jacket types, while demonstrating their comfort and versatility by wearing them to work.

Today's Life Jackets More Comfortable

"The life jackets of today are simply more comfortable and will help to save your life," said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. "Arizona's boating season has returned and many have already hit the water. While our lakes offer great family fun, the simplest thing anyone can do to protect themselves is to put on a life jacket."

Drownings 68 Percent Of Fatalities

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in approximately 68 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day coincided with the official launch of the 2017 North American Safe Boating Campaign, which focuses on educating the boating public about the safety and comfort of life jackets.

Take A Picture

AZGFD and the National Safe Boating Council each asked participants to take a picture of themselves in their life jacket while at work and post it to the Ready, Set, Wear It! Facebook page (facebook.com/readysetwearit) or submit directly to the NSBC at outreach@safeboatingcouncil.org. Participants were also encouraged to tweet their picture using #readysetwearit.

Members of the boating public as well as those interested in showing the wearability of life jackets were encouraged to participate. More information about the event and safe boating is available at facebook.com/readysetwearit.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a free safety course, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/boating.

Sobriety Checkpoint Held At Canyon Lake

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) conducted a watercraft operating under the influence (OUI) checkpoint on Canyon Lake recently. The purpose of the checkpoint was to ensure people are operating their watercraft safely and responsibly and to apprehend those found to be operating their vessels under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Systematic Safety Inspection

Throughout the weekend, some boaters were required to pass through a checkpoint and be subjected to a systematic safety inspection. Operators were checked for any sign of impairment from alcohol or drugs and asked to confirm that the required safety equipment, such as a proper number of life jackets and working fire extinguishers, were aboard.

"Operating a boat while impaired is just as dangerous, and just as illegal, as driving a vehicle while impaired," said Tim Holt, field supervisor for the AZGFD office in Mesa. "The illegal per se limit for blood alcohol concentration is .08 in both cases."

Canyon Lake Popular Recreation Venue

Canyon Lake is one of Arizona's most popular lakes for recreational boaters. In 2016, there were 16 boating accidents on Canyon Lake. Nationally, alcohol use was a factor in 17 percent of all fatalities and is the leading known contributor in fatal boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Using a checkpoint can not only increase the number of contacts with boaters, but also provide valuable data on the amount of alcohol consumption related to recreational boating on Arizona's waterways.

Tips For Staying Safe And Legal

Before you head out on the water, here are a few tips to stay safe and legal:

• AZGFD recommends that all operators take a boating safety education course, and watercraft users review all regulations prior to launching.

• Operators must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board and make sure that anyone 12 and under is wearing one at all times.

• Boats must be equipped with a fire extinguisher and a Type IV throwable personal flotation device (PFD).

• Each person on a personal watercraft (PWC), commonly known as a Jet Ski or WaveRunner, must wear a USCG approved life jacket with all fasteners and closures secured according to the manufacturer's design and recommended use.

•Each person being towed behind a vessel on water skis or a similar device must wear a life jacket.

For more information on boating in Arizona, or to sign up for a free safety course, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/boating.


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