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May 24, 2011

National Safe Boating Week: Life jackets are hip survival wear

MADISON, Wis. - If you're headed for boating fun this summer, be smart and stylish and wear a lightweight, proven lifesaver - a life jacket.

If you don't have a life jacket or have an older model, celebrate National Safe Boating Week, May 21 - 27, by buying an updated lightweight, easy-to-wear style and making a pledge to wear it every time you are on the water to fish, to boat and to sail.

"Thinking you'll have time to grab the life jacket off the seat or from the side compartment as you are going overboard is more than a mental stretch - it's unrealistic," says Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, chief of the Recreation Enforcement and Education division. "Accidents happen too fast to allow for that kind of reaction, and the stats back up the recommendation to wear the jacket at all times on the water."

Already this year, Wisconsin has recorded its first boating accident fatality - a 65-year-old male who fell overboard and drowned. He was not wearing a life jacket.

In 2010, Wisconsin had 18 boating-related deaths and 14 were not wearing life jackets. In 2009, none of the 16 boating fatalities were wearing life jackets. The U.S. Coast Guard reported in 2009 there were 4,730 accidents nationally that resulted in 736 deaths. Of those who drowned, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.

"All too often, while we are investigating boat accidents we find life jackets on board, but stored in compartments or hanging on a seat back," Schaller said. "The message and lesson to take away from these fatalities are the same: get a life jacket and wear it."

National Safe Boating Week is a good time to review other important safety tips:

More information about Safe Boating in Wisconsin is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller, Section Chief - Recreation Enforcement and Education, 608-266-2774 or Joanne Haas, Public Affairs Manager, Division Law Enforcement and Science, 608-267-0798

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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