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Game & Fish lifejacket exchanges Saturday in Havasu, Bullhead, Meadview

 

MOHAVE COUNTY – Have an old, worn out lifejacket? Swap it for a new one.

2018 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AZGFD) lifejacket exchange program, and it’s starting with a statewide push to ensure everyone in Arizona is safe on the water this summer.

 

Last year AZGFD swapped more than 800 old lifejackets for brand new, fully functioning lifejackets in the person’s appropriate size. And this year the department is aiming to reach 1,700 people with new lifejackets – a record-setting number for the state.

“Lifejackets save lives,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD’s boating safety education coordinator. “The exchange events are an amazing opportunity for Arizona’s boaters and paddlers to make sure they have a lifejacket that fits correctly and is in good condition.”

AZGFD is holding lifejacket exchange events at eight locations throughout the state from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 19. Three of those locations are in Mohave County:

Lake Havasu City: Windsor 4

Bullhead City Fire Station No. 2: 1230 Highway 95

Meadview: Lake Mead Plaza, 330 Meadview Blvd.

During the exchanges, people with old, worn out and less-effective lifejackets can swap them for a new one, while supplies last. Please note that Type I and Type II lifejackets will not be accepted.

Before heading out on the water, it’s important that boaters check to ensure their lifejackets are in good condition and that they are the right size and fit for passengers.

When inspecting lifejackets, look for any rips or tears, missing straps, broken fasteners, and ensure that the flotation hasn’t shifted.

Based on observations from AZGFD’s boating education program, lifejackets should be inspected each boating season due to the environment’s impact on materials.

State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a lifejacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket available.

May 19 is also the start of National Safe Boating Week, an effort to spread the message that wearing a lifejacket is the simplest way to ensure an individual’s safety on the water.

Drowning was the reported cause of death in 4 out of every 5 recreational boating fatalities in 2016, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Of those, approximately 83 percent were not wearing a lifejacket. Those statistics are reflected in Arizona: There were 12 recreational boating fatalities in the state last year, and in the majority of cases (eight), the individual who drowned was not wearing a lifejacket.

“Join us in kicking off the 10th year of our lifejacket exchange events, as well as National Safe Boating Week,” Hoffman said. “Together we can prevent boating tragedies and help to ensure everyone is safely enjoying Arizona’s waterways.”

For more information about boating in Arizona or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

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