Help save a life – give dad a life jacket for father’s day.
Father’s Day is June 21 and if your dad is an angler or spends any time in a boat, a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is both a great gift idea and something that may save his life.
According to Juelie Traska, boat safety education coordinator with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation in Boise, 11 people died in fatal boating accidents in Idaho last year. All 11 victims were male and eight were not wearing a PFD. Historically, Idaho averages nine boating fatalities each calendar year and many of these victims drowned since they were not wearing PFDs.
“A new, Coast Guard Approved PFD is one of the most thoughtful and practical gifts you could give a father who fishes or boats,” Traska said.
While there is a staggering selection of PFD’s on the market, inflatable life jackets are gaining in popularity because of their comfort and reasonable price. Some models resemble a pair of suspenders while others are worn like a fanny pack. These types require regular inspection and maintenance but are user-friendly, lightweight, and likely to be worn. Inflatable life jackets should only be worn in lakes and reservoirs, not in whitewater environments. Inflatable life jackets are only authorized to be worn by individuals 16 and older.
The size of the boat used determines the specific design types and quantities of PFDs required. State boating safety law requires all boats, including paddlecraft, to carry one properly fitting and readily accessible Coast Guard-approved PFD per person on board. A cushion or life-ring does not meet this requirement. Boats 16 feet or more in length, except canoes and kayaks, must carry one “throwable” flotation device such as a buoyant cushion or life-ring.
Additionally, children 14 years of age and younger on board vessels 19 feet or less must wear a life jacket that is approved for children when the vessel is underway or under power. This applies to manually propelled boats such as canoes and rafts in addition to powerboats, sailboats, and personal watercraft like jet skis and float tubes. Anglers fishing out of float tubes do not require a PFD on lakes less than 200 surface acres, but anglers fishing out of pontoons do require PFDs on all Idaho waters.
Regardless of age, you must wear a personal flotation device aboard a personal watercraft, and also when being pulled behind a vessel while waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing and tubing.
PFD’s must be Coast Guard approved, properly sized, and in good condition with no broken buckles, torn straps, rips, and tears. It is especially important to make sure children wear a PFD that is the correct size. Having children in the wrong sized PFD could endanger their life if they fall out of the boat unexpectedly and slip out of the PFD. Remember, they can only save lives when worn.
Learn more about the dangers of cold water and how to safeguard yourself and your passengers at www.boatidaho.gov. You can also sign up for a free boating safety class at this website.
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