Tulsa – Ahead of the busy 2017 boating season, the Grand River Dam Authority and Grand Lake Sail & Power Squadron (GLSPS) are reminding the public of the importance of proper life jacket usage. At a special press conference, held at the Tulsa Boat, Sport & Travel Show on February 2, the organizations shared information on life jacket sizes, statistics and simply stressed one important fact: “Life jackets won’t work if you don’t wear them.”
Also at that event, GRDA presented GLSPS with a check for $5,200, to help the organization in its efforts to promote life jacket safety around the GRDA lakes area. The GLSPS is actively involved in community service and boater education programs in the lake area.
According to statistics from the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, 76 percent of all boating fatality victims drown. And of those victims, a staggering 85 percent are not wearing life jackets.
“In a boating accident, you can be thrown into the water unexpectedly,” said GRDA Chief of Law Enforcement/Lake Operations Brian Edwards, “and in those instances, there is no time to grab a life jacket. That’s why it is extremely important to already have it on.”
Not only does wearing a life jacket dramatically increase survival chances in the water, but it also buys its wearer time. If you go into the water without a jacket, you will exert a lot of energy trying to stay afloat. By wearing a life jacket, you expend dramatically less energy as you wait for assistance.
As part of the efforts to encourage life jacket usage, GRDA and the GLSPS are also educating the public on the different types of jackets available. Once upon a time, many people complained that life jackets were bulky, hot and restricted movement, all of which made them uncomfortable to wear. However, today, that is no longer an excuse.
“These days, you can find a life jacket to fit just about any activity you have planned,” said Edwards. “They come in many styles, colors and are made of materials that make them much more comfortable to wear.”
To ensure that you have the right life jacket, GRDA offers the following tips:
• To help determine the right jacket for you, first check the label for rating type, intended use, size & weight and strength test. Also, the label should indicate if the jacket is approved by the United States Coast Guard.
• Buy your own jacket. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.
• If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets based on their weight. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
• Try it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head or come down above your ears.
• Never use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.
• Wear your life jacket to increase your chance of survival in an accident and to set a good example for others.
• Check your life jacket yearly for flotation and fit. Makes sure it is still in good condition, with no rips or tears.
For more information on life jackets and their proper usage, visit the “GRDA Police” tab on www.grda.com. You can also contact the GRDA Police Department at (918) 256-0911.