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Colorado State Parks Celebrates National Safe Boating Week
5/25/2010
Credit:
Colorado State Parks Press Release
DENVER - Colorado State Parks is celebrating National Safe Boating Week, May 22-28, by reminding all boaters to check their personal floatation devices (PFDs) for wear, tears, broken or missing buckles and buoyancy.

The theme of the 2010 National Safe Boating Week is “Wear It!” and promotes the use of life jackets. To boat safely all year, always wear your life jacket! The U.S. Coast Guard statistics for boating fatalities in 2008, the most recent year available, show that 90 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

“Boaters getting ready for a season on the water should add an inspection of all PFDs to their checklist, along with engine maintenance, looking at connectors, fuel and electrical system lines, ventilation system, and examining their vessel’s surface for any problems that might compromise safety,” said Kris Wahlers, the Colorado State Parks Boating Safety Coordinator. “A PFD is one of the most important items on any boat.”

Colorado law requires that boaters carry one wearable PFD for each person on board. If the boat is more than 16 feet in length, an additional Type IV throwable PFD is required in addition to a sound producing device, fire extinguisher and other vessel specific requirements. All children, 12 years of age and younger, are required to wear a PFD whenever their vessel is on the water, except when they are in an enclosed cabin or below deck.

All PFDs must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved, readily available to passengers and in good condition. To check a PFD, follow these steps:

If the U.S. Coast Guard seal of approval on the inside is so worn or faded that it’s unreadable, the jacket’s useful life is probably over.
Inspect the straps and buckles for fraying, cuts and obviously wear. Are the buckles cracked, broken or completely gone? Are they still adjustable? A PFD that breaks or slides off will not save a life.
Give the PFD a squeeze. The interior foam should be a little squishy, but quickly return to its original shape. If the material is hard, it is time to say goodbye. Just because it floats by itself does not mean it is going to keep you afloat.

When you know your PFD is in great condition, wear it!

A complaint that many people share is that wearing a PFD all the time is hot and uncomfortable, which it can be. Many people are looking at inflatable PFD’s as a full time wear option. They are lighter, cooler and offer about twice the float as an inherently buoyant PFD. They do tend to be a little more expensive, but are all reusable after activation. Keep in mind that if you go that route, they do need to be worn to meet the PFD’s on a vessel requirement.

For more information on required equipment, boat registrations, boating statutes and regulations, boating safety classes, boat accident reporting and overall boating safety in Colorado, visit http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/Pages/BoatingProgramHome.aspx.