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Life jacket exchanges mark start of Safe Boating Week in Arizona

Posted May 16, 2018

Gov. Doug Ducey issues a proclamation encouraging boating safety

PHOENIX — National Safe Boating Week is all about encouraging responsible boating and life jacket wear every time boaters are on the water. As we enter boating season, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is kicking off the initiative on May 19 by hosting life jacket exchange events throughout the state. The goal is to make sure that no one has an excuse for not wearing a life jacket — people can swap old, worn-out life jackets for a brand new one in the appropriate size.

National Safe Boating Week, which takes place May 19-25, is the beginning of the 2018 Safe Boating Campaign, a yearlong effort that aims to spread messages about boating safety and the importance of wearing a life jacket. Drowning was the cause of death in three out of every four recreational boating fatalities in 2016 and of those, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

“National Safe Boating Week serves as an important reminder that safety is the No. 1 priority when you’re on the water,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator for AZGFD. “Always wear a life jacket and be prepared with the proper safety gear.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also helped to mark the start of Safe Boating Week by issuing a proclamation encouraging the public to be safe while on the water. “National Safe Boating Week is observed to bring attention to important life-saving tips for recreational boaters so that they can have a safer, more fun experience out on the water throughout the year,” the proclamation states.

Boaters interested in trading in an old life jacket for a brand-new one can attend one of the eight exchanges from 10 a.m. to noon on May 19 (Type I and Type II life jackets will not be accepted):

“Life jackets have become more comfortable and lightweight, allowing for increased mobility so that you can easily wear one regardless of whether you’re boating, fishing, paddling or hunting,” Hoffman said. “It’s not enough to just have a life jacket on board — wear it.”

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.

Another important aspect of safe boating is understanding the laws and regulations for cruising around Arizona’s waterways. AZGFD offers free in-person courses for both boaters and paddlers to ensure that all of Arizona’s residents have access to instruction on the basic skills required to safely and legally operate their boat.

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