GRDA sharing “ready, set, wear it” message, important life jacket information

Langley – Ready, set, wear it.

Life Jacket fit facts from the National Safe Boating Council.

Life Jacket fit facts from the National Safe Boating Council.

It is not just a slogan, but a call to take proactive steps to be safe on the water. If your Memorial Day weekend and summer plans include a trip to an area lake or river, the Grand River Dam Authority is remind you to take this action and always wear your life jacket.

Not only in recognition of National Safe Boating Week 2017 (May 20-26) but year round, the GRDA Police Department promotes life jacket usage. Today, at the start of the busy summer boating season, it is a good time to get in the “ready, set, wear it” habit.

According to the latest statistics from United States Coast Guard (USCG), drowning was reported as the cause of death in three-fourths of all boating fatalities in 2015 (latest year of statistics). Approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Those are numbers that GRDA is intent on changing.

“We always stress safe boating for all visitors to our lakes and the Illinois River,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty, “and safe boating always begins with a life jacket.”

According to the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC), most drowning accidents are 10 feet or less from a safe place and in most situations, the person never intended to enter the water. To untrained bystanders, a drowning person may appear to simply be waving, clowning around or just splashing. The three best ways to prevent drowning while boating include always wearing a life jacket, learning to swim and boating sober.

“The sad truth is that the majority of people who drowned in a boating accident had a life jacket available to them but were not wearing it when they entered the water,” said Alberty.  “Put it on when you get in the boat. Wear it to protect yourself and to be a safe example for the children in your boat as well.”

Tips from the National Safe Boating Council.

Tips from the National Safe Boating Council.

As you gear up for lake or river activities, GRDA once again shares these important life jacket tips:

·       BUY your own personal life jacket and use it. One size does not fit all.

·       LOOK at the label. It will provide weight, size and use information.

·       TRY it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head.

·       NEVER use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.

·       CHECK your life jacket yearly for flotation and fit.

·       REMEMBER, a child’s jacket must fit snugly. They should not ‘grow into’ it!”

As for proper life jacket care and maintenance, the National Safe Boating Council offers these tips as well:

·       Dry it before storing

·       Store it in a cool, well-ventilated area

·       Keep it where it can be easily retrieved

·       Replace it when signs of wear appear

·       Don’t alter the jacket

·       Don’t dry clean or use harsh cleansers

·       Don’t use direct heat to dry or leave in the sun indefinitely

·       Don’t use your jacket as a cushion, a kneeling pad or as a boat fender

It is important to note that GRDA lake rules require all boats to carry a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets for each person on board. On vessels less than 26 feet in length, while underway, each passenger 12 years of age or younger is also required to wear a PFD (although ALL passengers are encouraged to wear it ALL the time). Anyone operating or riding as a passenger on a personal watercraft (PWC), water skis, sailboard, surfboard, wakeboard, parasail or similar device is also required to wear an approved flotation device.

“Once upon a time, the excuse was that many life jackets were bulky and uncomfortable to wear,” said Alberty. “That’s not the case these days. Many modern life jacket designs are lightweight and comfortable enough to be worn all day. Find the style and size that works for you and wear it on the water.”

For more information on GRDA, the GRDA Police Department and lake rules, visit www.grda.com. If you need immediate assistance while on the water, the GRDA Police encourages you to dial 911. If you don’t have a cell phone available on your boat you can also radio for help on Marine Band 16.  For more information on life jackets, visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.