LOCAL NEWS

State Reminding Boaters To Wear Life Jackets

Jun 26, 2019, 8:20 PM | Updated: 11:15 pm

HEBER CITY, Utah – The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation is urging boaters to wear their life jackets whenever they’re on the boat, and they’re spreading the word with newly-released TV spots.

As boating season heats up with the weather, Utah has already seen a spike in boating-related deaths this past month.

Utah law only requires boaters to have a life jacket available on the boat for each person, unless you’re under age 13, then you must be wearing it. Wearing it, and having it properly fastened, would have made all the difference in several drowning deaths this year.

“We (would rather) be safe than sorry,” said Tim Hansen, who was gearing up to head out on Jordanelle Reservoir with some Boy Scouts Wednesday. “So, we’re always wearing our life jackets in the boat.” 

Most Utahns are pretty good about buckling their seatbelts in their cars. Utah State Parks wants boaters develop the same safety culture for life jackets on boats.

Hansen said he has always operated that way. 

“If you’re on my boat, you have your life jacket zipped up and your arms through the right way,” he said. “That’s our family rule.”

Six people have died in boating-related fatalities in Utah since last fall. (They begin their statistical year October 1, as does the U.S. Coast Guard).

That’s already two-thirds the number of boating fatalities compared to last year. Four of those might have been prevented with life jackets. Overall, 80 percent of boating fatalities nationwide involve people not wearing life jackets.

Utah State Parks is airing its “Nobody is Invincible” campaign.  They’re raising awareness about the importance of wearing a life jacket at all times on the boat.

“Only 7 percent of Utahns voluntary wear their life jackets,” said Ty Hunter, manager of the Utah Boating Program.

The majority of adults are not wearing lifejackets while they’re on the boat, even if the life jackets are available. Hunter said, that can be a big mistake if a problem arises.

“We (would rather) be safe than sorry.”

“A life jacket, number one, buys you time,” he said. “If something happens, it can be that life or death factor.”

Especially this time of year, when the temperatures warm up but the water is still cold.

“The water is cold, really cold,” he said.

If you fall into the cold water, you might not be able to control your breathing, and you may not be able to swim. However, a life jacket worn properly can keep your head above water.

“With the incidents that we’ve had the last couple of weeks, this is something where maybe we can catch the attention of the folks who are out there boating and say, ‘Hey this can happen to you,’” Hunter said. “ You’re not invincible. Wear your life jacket. Your life jacket will buy you time.”

He also reminds boaters that it doesn’t have to be storming for a boating crash or drowning to occur. Deadly trouble can arise in a hurry even when it’s blue skies and sunshine on the water.

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State Reminding Boaters To Wear Life Jackets