It’s a symbol of safety and most boaters know that wearing a life jacket can save your life. But did you know that most recreational boating fatalities involve adults who have years of boating experience but succumb to drowning from falling overboard or capsizing?
The Oregon State Marine Board, Lincoln County and Tillamook County Sheriff’s Offices and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary are teaming up to evaluate life jacket wear and to reward adults who are “caught” wearing their life jackets as part of a nationwide “Wear It” campaign to educate boaters about the importance of wearing a properly fitting life jacket to reduce recreational boating fatalities in Oregon.
During a targeted weekend in October, marine deputies will be rewarding boaters who are “caught” wearing their life jackets with a free, cell phone Dry Pak(C). Coast Guard Auxiliarists will also be observing boaters and documenting the type of boats, weather conditions, and if boaters were wearing life jackets.
“This project is a great way to raise awareness, and hopefully impact behavior so boaters look at life jacket wear the same way car drivers look at seat belts,” says Randy Henry, Boating Safety Program Manager for the Marine Board. “This is a positive way to encourage use. Let’s reward people who are being safe.”
October is traditionally a peak month for Dungeness crabbing, among other fisheries along the Oregon coast. With the change to fall, there comes a change in weather, which can happen suddenly in coastal environments. “The coast is a perfect place to test out this “Caught” campaign, and hopefully, we’ll be able to document higher wear rates and fewer accidents this fall and winter,” Henry adds.