AP NEWS

Life jacket exchange planned for May 18

May 3, 2019

Lake Havasu City residents can exchange their old life jackets for new ones on Saturday, May 18.

Safe Boating Week is on the horizon and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will kick off the national campaign locally with life jacket exchange events at lakes around the state.

Now in its 11th year, the Life Jacket Exchange program allows people with an old, worn out life jacket to swap it for a new one (while supplies last). Last year, the department’s Boating Safety Education program exchanged 1,520 of the life-saving jackets.

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

The events run from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 18 at seven locations throughout the state:

Bartlett Lake at the Jojoba RampBullhead City at Fire Station #2-1230 Hwy 95Canyon Lake at the main boat rampLake Havasu City at London Bridge BeachLake Pleasant at the 10- and four-lane boat rampsSaguaro Lake at the main boat ramp (from 8 a.m. to noon)Yuma at West Wetlands Park Pond

Note that Type I and Type II life jackets will not be accepted, but other life jacket exchange events will be held 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 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 18 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 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s most readily available statistics. In the 449 water-related deaths that year, 370 people — approximately 84.5 percent — were not wearing a life jacket. Those statistics are reflected in Arizona: There were 11 recreational boating fatalities in the state last year. One person has already been killed on the water in Arizona in 2019. A kayaker who wasn’t wearing a life jacket drowned in March in Greenlee County.

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