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Life Jacket Safety

As you begin to prepare for the next boating season, be sure to have the most important item on board — a life jacket

"They're just too hot"... "I don't look good while I'm wearing one"... "I always have one in the boat."

These are just some of the excuses recreational boaters use when asked about wearing a life jacket while enjoying a day on the lake.

Recent surveys indicate that 8 to 10 percent of boaters wear a life jacket when on the water. Remember the bulky orange Type II "horse collar" mom made you put on when you were a kid? They were downright uncomfortable, but worked well if the wearer fell into the water.

Fortunately, the days of being hot and uncomfortable because of wearing a life jacket are over. New inflatable life jackets are both lightweight and comfortable, and in the case of the new inflatable belt pack, it's easy to forget you're actually wearing a Personal Flotation Device.

Indiana Boating Laws require a wearable life jacket for each passenger to be onboard a vessel. The life jackets must be the correct size for the intended wearer, and must also be United State Coast Guard approved, and in good condition. Watercraft 16 feet in length or longer must also carry at least one Type IV onboard, to be thrown to someone in the water. Boaters riding upon Personal Watercraft must wear a life jacket at all times.

In an effort to heighten the awareness of the importance of using a life jacket, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Law Enforcement has partnered with the National Safe Boating Council, United States Coast Guard, Vincennes University, and private industry to present the WEAR IT INDIANA campaign.

The mission of WEAR IT INDIANA is to educate the boating public to the dangers of not wearing a life jacket during that split second your life may depend upon the ability to stay afloat.

The notion that "I'll grab a jacket as I'm falling overboard" just doesn't hold water. It could be compared to the driver of a motor vehicle trying to put on a seat belt just before a head-on collision; it's simply impossible. So next time you jump onboard your boat, pull out those life jackets, inspect them, and put one on yourself and each passenger. Come on Indiana... WEAR IT!

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