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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 27, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Remember life jacket safety when on the water

With summer finally making its appearance and the long Labor Day weekend ahead, the Washington State Parks and Recreation would like to remind boaters and personal water craft users (PWC) to wear a life jacket when on the water.

This year, there have already been 13 boating fatalities in Washington, and only one of these boaters is known to have been wearing a life jacket.

Washington state boating statistics for 2005 through 2011 show more than 80 percent of all 155 fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

“These vessels make quick turns, and boaters operating PWCs are looking for adventure that involves zipping around and are likely to end up in the water,” Lt. Marc Olson of the Seattle Police Department Harbor Unit said in a news release.

“If you’re thrown off a PWC, you may get hurt, inhale water or be incapacitated by the shock of cold water. Any of these things can cause even a strong swimmer to struggle and drown. That is why life jackets are required.”

In addition to PWCs users, wakeboarders and people on all other towing devices, children 12 years old and younger also are required to wear life jackets. The law also requires a life jacket be carried for every person aboard any boat.

While safety is the most important reason for wearing a life jacket, violators of the requirements also face fines ranging from $87 to $138.

For more information on safety and laws, visit Washington State’s Official Boating website or call 360-902-8555.

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