There’s Never an Excuse Not to Wear a Life Jacket

It’s tempting not to wear a life jacket while fishing or boating, especially on nice days. You want to get some sun, or you think you’ll get too hot. But whether you’re going fishing or just enjoying a ride on the boat, there’s never an excuse not to wear a life jacket. You can have a great time, even when wearing a life jacket.

At the National Safe Boating Council, we believe life jacket wear is an easy strategy to stay safe while boating or fishing. Sadly, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 85 percent of those who drown while boating were not wearing a life jacket. Even though boat owners are required to have a life jacket on board the vessel for each person, accidents happen too fast on the water to reach for stowed life jackets. For instance, I often hear about people who lost their balance while fishing and fell into the water. And, as the temperature starts to cool down chances of survival in the water drastically go down with decreasing water temperatures, especially if you aren’t wearing a life jacket.

The North American Safe Boating Campaign – simply known as “Wear It!” – has identified the top 5 excuses people admit to saying to not wear a life jacket. Consider if you have said one of these phrases:

  1. “I have life jackets on board.” Having life jackets on board the vessel is not enough; best to wear it all times to be safe.

  2. “I’m a strong swimmer.” Even a strong swimmer needs to wear a life jacket. During an emergency situation, clothing can become heavy or waterlogged while in the water.

  3. “It’s too hot and doesn’t look cool.” Life jackets don’t even have to be ‘jackets’ anymore. Old-fashioned, bulky orange life jackets have been replaced with new varieties of life jackets, like inflatable life jackets that may resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. These new styles are much cooler in the warmer weather and many inflate automatically when immersed in water.

  4. “It gets in the way.” There are life jacket styles available for almost any recreational water activity – fishing, water sports, hunting, paddling and more. And, many fishing vests have life jackets built in. There are even styles for pets!

  5. “Nothing is going to happen to me.” Face it, accidents happen. Boating can be a fun and enjoyable activity and safe at the same time.

If you have said any of these phrases, take a moment to reconsider wearing that life jacket at all times. Boating responsibly and wearing a life jacket can help keep you and your loved ones safe, while still enjoying a great day on the water.

For more information about boating safety and life jacket wear, follow “Wear It!” on Twitter and Facebook . Share your boating story at the Safe Boating Campaign.

This blog was written by Rachel Johnson, guest blogger and Executive Director of the National Safe Boating Council.

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.