May 18, 2023

Life jacket exchange events kick off Saturday, May 20

PHOENIX — As the temperatures continue to rise and the school year ends, more people are expected to visit Arizona’s lakes, meaning the risk of water-related accidents will likely increase. To help prevent drownings, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds the public of the importance of wearing a life jacket when boating or recreating at the lakes.

“A life jacket does exactly what it says — it saves your life when you need it,” said Danny Rodriguez, watercraft law enforcement programs coordinator. “However, it can only save your life if you’re wearing one, and often it’s too late to put one on once you realize you need it.”

For the last 15 years, AZGFD has partnered with Arizona State Parks, the US Coast Guard, and the Ryan Thomas Foundation to help prevent drownings by establishing 18 lifejacket kiosks at lakes across Arizona, including the following lakes: Pleasant, Mohave, Bartlett, Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, and Lake Havasu. 

“It’s not uncommon for people to arrive at the lakes and realize they didn’t bring a life jacket, or the one they have doesn’t properly fit,” says AZGFD’s boating safety education coordinator, Josh Hoffman. “If that happens, people can borrow a life jacket (size appropriate) from one of our kiosks, use it on the water, and return it to the station when they’re done.”

Additionally, AZGFD will host free life jacket exchange events across the state. “If you have an old, worn-out, or improperly fitting life jacket, swap it for a new one at no cost (while supplies last) at any of the events we’ll be hosting throughout the next few weeks, says Hoffman. “Currently, only ski vest-type life jackets are eligible for exchange’”

Life jacket exchange locations:

Saturday, May 20:

8 a.m. – noon

6-11 a.m.

9-11 a.m.

9 a.m. – noon

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Saturday, June 3:

9 a.m. – noon

Friday, June 9:

9-11 a.m.

Saturday, June 10: 

10 a.m. – noon

Since 2016, AZGFD has exchanged more than seven thousand life jackets across the state.

For more information about boating in Arizona or to sign up for a free safety course, visit

Subscribe to our Newsletter