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Life jacket exchange events kick off Saturday, May 19

Posted May 1, 2018

10-year anniversary of life jacket exchanges starts with events statewide

Have an old, worn out life jacket? Swap it for a new one. 2018 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AZGFD) life jacket exchange program, and it’s starting with a statewide push to ensure everyone in Arizona is safe on the water this summer.

Last year AZGFD swapped more than 800 old life jackets for brand new, fully functioning life jackets in the person’s appropriate size. And this year the department is aiming to reach 1,700 people with new life jackets — a record-setting number for the state.

“Life jackets save lives,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD’s boating safety education coordinator. “The exchange events are an amazing opportunity for Arizona’s boaters and paddlers to make sure they have a life jacket that fits correctly and is in good condition.”

From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19, AZGFD is holding life jacket exchange events at eight locations throughout the state:

During the exchanges, people with old, worn out and less-effective life jackets can swap them for a new one, while supplies last. Please note that Type I and Type II life jackets will not be accepted.

Before heading out on the water, it’s important that boaters check to ensure that their life jackets are in good condition and that they are the right size and fit for passengers. When inspecting life jackets, look for any rips or tears, missing straps, broken fasteners, and to ensure that the flotation hasn’t shifted. Based on observations from AZGFD’s boating education program, life jackets should be inspected each boating season due to the environment’s impact on their materials.

State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available.

May 19 is also the start of National Safe Boating Week, an effort to spread the message that wearing a life jacket is the simplest way to ensure an individual’s safety on the water. Drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2016, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Of those, approximately 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Those statistics are reflected in Arizona: There were 12 recreational boating fatalities in the state last year, and in the majority of cases (eight), the individual drowned and was not wearing a life jacket.

“Join us in kicking off the 10th year of our life jacket exchange events as well as National Safe Boating Week,” Hoffman said. “Together we can prevent boating tragedies and help to ensure everyone is safely enjoying Arizona’s waterways.”

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

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