In light of the recent tragedy in which four people perished after two boats collided on the Colorado River, the Arizona Game and Fish Department issued a statement about the use of personal flotation devices (PFDs) while operating or riding in a watercraft.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families impacted by this incident,” said AZGFD Boating Safety Education Program Coordinator Josh Hoffman. “The unfortunate reality is that incidents such as these are very much preventable. It is absolutely critical that all boat operators keep a proper lookout for nearby watercraft and travel at safe speeds. Additionally, everyone aboard should be wearing a life jacket at all times. Accidents can happen in a blink of an eye.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2017 there were 4,291 recreational boating accidents involving 658 deaths nationwide.
In cases where the cause of death was known, 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned and of those, 84.6 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
The AZGFD recommends that life jackets should be replaced every five years.
All persons on a watercraft should have a properly sized and fitted life jacket and should wear it anytime the boat is in operation.
Arizona law requires that anyone 12 and under must wear a PFD at all times when a vessel is underway. The law requires that there be a life jacket on board for every passenger, including canoes and kayaks.
Throwable floatation devices are also required on all watercraft longer than 16 feet, excluding canoes and kayaks.