Have an old, worn out life jacket? Swap it for a new one. Now in its 11th year, the Life Jacket Exchange program allows people with an old, worn out life jacket to swap it for a new one (while supplies last). Last year, the department’s Boating Safety Education program exchanged 1,520 of the life-saving jackets.
“Life jackets save lives, but only if they’re still in good operating condition,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD’s boating safety education coordinator. “Like anything else, life jackets wear out with time and these exchange events are an amazing opportunity for Arizona’s boaters and paddlers to ensure they have a life jacket that not only fits correctly, but is in great condition.”
Three events are scheduled in the White Mountains.
Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m. to noon at Willow Springs boat ramp
Saturday, June 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Big Lake south cove boat ramp
Saturday, June 22, 2 p.m. to 4 Show Low Lake at the parking lot above the boat ramp
Please note that Type I and Type II life jackets will not be accepted.
Before heading out on the water, it’s important that boaters check to ensure that their life jackets are in good condition and that they are the right size and fit for passengers. When inspecting life jackets, look for any rips or tears, missing straps, broken fasteners, and to ensure that the flotation hasn’t shifted. Life jackets should be inspected each boating season due to the environment’s impact on their materials.
State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available.
Drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s most readily available statistics. In the 449 water-related deaths that year, 370 people — approximately 84.5 percent — were not wearing a life jacket. Those statistics are reflected in Arizona: There were eleven recreational boating fatalities in the state last year and sadly, we’ve already had our first fatality of 2019 that involved a kayaker that was not wearing a life jacket. These deaths are preventable.
“Through this program, the Arizona Game and Fish Department hopes to prevent boating tragedies and help to ensure everyone is safely enjoying Arizona’s waterways,” Hoffman said.