Washington, DC – May 2009 – While boating is a safe and fun recreational activity enjoyed by thousands every year, in 2009 there may still be more than 600 boating fatalities from boating accidents. With this statistic in mind, the 2009 North American Boating Campaign is again encouraging boaters to “Wear It!” during National Safe Boating Week May 16-22. Wearing a life jacket can make the difference between life and death. According to the most-recently reported official U.S. Coast Guard statistics:
90 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket in 2007.
Drowning is the reported cause of death in two-thirds of all boating fatalities.
That’s why boating safety advocates continue to push for increased and consistent life jacket wear on the water.
“The consequences are too grim for anyone to afford to ignore the ‘Wear It!’ message,” says Virgil Chambers, Executive Director of the National Safe Boating Council, an umbrella group representing boating safety advocates throughout North America. “However, for whatever reason, every year some boaters choose to go without wearing a life jacket.”

“We want to prove that life jackets not only save lives, but that today’s life jackets are comfortable, stylish and easy to wear,” says John Johnson, Executive Director of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). “In fact, they don’t even have to be ‘jackets’ anymore. The old-fashioned, bulky orange life jacket most people are used to has been replaced with innovative new options we want all boaters to know about, including the new inflatable styles.”

Life jackets are available in a wide variety of compact, lightweight and attractive styles suitable for constant wear. Many are partially or wholly inflatable, and resemble a wide set of suspenders or even a belt pack. Special varieties are made for anglers, hunters, skiers and other sports enthusiasts. One newer style even has a built-in walkie-talkie.

“Life jackets today not only look cool and feel more comfortable, even on those hot summer days, but – most importantly – they’re saving lives,” Chambers says.

The North American Safe Boating Campaign unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates, including NASBLA, the Canadian Safe Boating Council and the many members of the National Safe Boating Council. The campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Partners hold local events, teach classes, distribute educational materials and perform free Vessel Safety Checks, among other activities.

Sharing the story of how life jackets save lives has the biggest impact when it comes from personal experience. The 2009 “Be a Survivor: Wear It!” contest calls on boaters to share their personal stories about boating accident survival where a life jacket saved the day. This year’s contest is sponsored by West Marine®, the national boating-related products and services retailer. They are donating one grand prize shopping spree worth $1,000 to this year’s winner. Entries will be accepted at www.SafeBoatingCampaign.com or by mail. Details will also be updated on the campaign Web site for 2009.

“We are looking forward to another year of hearing these inspirational stories,” Chambers says. “We are also planning to generate even more excitement online with interactive content promoting this season’s safety message, and encourage frequent visits to our site to spread the word on ‘Wear It!’”

About the National Safe Boating Council
The National Safe Boating Council represents over 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations committed to reducing boating accidents and enhancing the boating experience. Visit www.SafeBoatingCampaign.com for campaign materials and additional safe boating resources.
Rachel Burkholder
Outreach Manager
National Safe Boating Council