The Coast Guard would like to remind the public of the importance of proper water safety equipment when taking part in water-related activities, particularly life jackets.
The 2020 Recreational Boating Statics Report revealed there were 767 boating fatalities nationwide for 2020. In events where the cause of death were known, approximately 86 percent of people were not wearing life jackets.
“It’s crucial for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times because it very likely will save your life if you enter the water unexpectedly,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, Chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters. “The Coast Guard reminds boaters to make sure that life jackets are serviceable, properly sized, and correctly fastened.”
The Coast Guard reminds the community that it is critical to ensure that your life jacket or Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is Coast Guard approved if utilizing recreational watercraft. A properly certified Coast Guard approved life jacket has passed numerous testing requirements to ensure it will offer the wearer the level of safety it is designed for.
There are many options for purchasing life jackets via local or online retailers, but not all life jackets are Coast Guard Approved even if the manufacturer claims it to be. You can identify if your life jacket is Coast Guard approved by simply checking the printed label, often found inside of the jacket backing or side panel. The label should say “USCG Approved” along with serial numbers. Please see the attached example photo.
Other water safety equipment like a safety whistle, electronic strobe light, emergency pyrotechnic flares, and a Personal Locating Beacon (PLB) are proven lifesaving devices and could be a tremendous help in assisting first responders locating missing persons, especially at night.
“When you combine additional lifesaving equipment, this greatly enhances the chances of rescue should an emergency arise,” said Lt. j.g. Edward Oingerang, public affairs officer, Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.
If you are unsure if your life jacket or other water safety equipment is sufficient, or if you need general education in water safety, please email Guam’s local Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiners at [email protected] for assistance.