LAKE HAVASU CITY – Within the first 30 minutes of their two-hour event on Saturday morning, organizers of the Wear It Colorado Life Jacket Exchange Program gave away all of their adult-sized life jackets and were left with only a handful of children sizes.
The annual event was hosted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in partnership with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Lake Havasu City Police Department, to promote boat safety awareness by allowing boaters a chance to exchange their worn life jackets for newer ones, free of charge.
“The more people we have that are conscious about their life jackets and wearing their [personal floatation devices] the better chance we have at saving a life,” said Bill Bryan, an AZGF volunteer at the event. “We’ve got a lot of young kids out here on these boats and they need to be wearing their life jackets.”
According to Bryan, they were prepared to exchange about 250 life jackets for ones that were worn, torn, unserviceable or wrong-sized, which were disposed of at the end of the event.
Bryan also explained that not many people are aware of the laws associated with life jackets and boat safety, in general. For example, he said, not only are life jackets mandatory on-board per person, but they are required to fit each person properly.
“A lot of times we’ll see folks out on the water and we’ll ask them to show us their life jackets and there will be an old guy with a child’s life jacket,” he said. “They have to realize they need to have a lifejacket that fits them.”
He suggested that people attend the AZGF free boating safety courses – which can be found online – to become more aware about regulations.
Boating officers at the event also offered the public vessel safety checks; however, they received no participants, said MCSO Sgt. Kyler Cox.