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Life jacket exchange events set for Saturday, June 26

Posted June 24, 2021

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, will conduct a half-dozen life jacket exchange events throughout the state Saturday, June 26.

The life jacket exchange program allows anyone with an old, worn out or improperly fitting life jacket to swap it for a new one, free of charge (while supplies last). AZGFD kicked off the 12th year of the program last month with similar life jacket exchange events throughout the state.

In 2019, the department’s Boating Safety Education program exchanged more than 1,600 life jackets.

“Life jackets have one main goal and that’s saving lives, but only if they’re still in good operating condition,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator. “Like anything else, life jackets wear out with time, and these exchange events are a great opportunity for Arizona’s boaters and paddlers to ensure they have a life jacket that not only fits correctly, but is in great condition and ready should they need it.”

AZGFD will conduct life jacket exchange events at the following locations:

Only ski vest-type life jackets are eligible for exchange; other life jacket exchange events may be conducted at other times during the summer.

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. Life jackets should be inspected each boating season due to the environment’s impact on their materials.

State law requires all passengers 12 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.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86% of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket in 2019. So far in 2021, nine people have been injured and three people have been killed in boating accidents on Arizona lakes.

“Through this program, the Arizona Game and Fish Department hopes to prevent boating tragedies and help to ensure everyone is safely enjoying Arizona’s waterways,” Hoffman said.

The life jacket exchange is conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Maricopa County Parks, Bullhead City Fire Department, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and funded by U.S. Coast Guard grant money. For more information about boating in Arizona, or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.