Lifejacket Tips from GRDA

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

“I Got Caught” campaign kicks off Memorial Day Weekend …
Lifejacket Tips From GRDA

The Grand River Dam Authority understands that being a good steward of the Grand River and the natural resources under its control also means helping educate and support all those who utilize those resources.

GRDA Officer Jason Littlefield (right) "catches" a group of boaters doing the right thing... wearing their life jackets. The boaters received t-shirts as part of GRDA's "I Got Caught" life jacket campaign.

Because of that, the GRDA Police have made life jacket education and awareness a major part of its efforts for several decades now. On the water, in the classroom, at special events, from inside its booth at a boat show and just about anywhere else that an audience can listen and learn, you can find GRDA patrolmen promoting the benefits of life jackets and other personal flotation devices (PFDs).

And it’s a message that needs to be told. Unfortunately, the latest statistics from the United States Coast Guard show that life jacket usage for boaters ages 18-64 in 2010 (not including personal watercraft) was at its lowest point in 12 years of observation and study.  However for youth (age 17 and younger) statistics do show that wear rates have increased almost 30 percent since 1999. So, while it seems like young people are wearing their life jackets, adults are not as likely to.

That is a dangerous trend when you consider that, according to the USCG numbers almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims in 2010 drowned, and of those fatalities, a staggering 88 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Facts like that are among the reasons for GRDA’s annual “I Got Caught” lifejacket promotion awareness campaign, which begins Memorial Day Weekend and last through the summer months on Grand and Hudson lakes. If the GRDA Police spot you doing the right thing – wearing your life jacket – they might just pull your boat over and reward you with a special t-shirt commemorating your positive actions.  While it’s been a proper program among the kids, GRDA always encourages adults to “get caught” setting a good example for all those on the boat. Life jackets don’t work if you don’t wear them.

Finally, GRDA offers these tips to help you find the proper life jacket:

  • Buy your own personal life jacket. One size DOES NOT fit all.
  • Look at the label. It will provide the weight, size and proper use information.
  • 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.
  • Check your life jacket year for flotation and fit.
  • Finally, wear your life jacket to increase your chance of survival in an accident and to set a good example for others

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

                                                         – Justin Alberty
                           GRDA Corporate Communications Director