Thursday, March 22, 2012
Life jacket policy successful
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in Mississippi will continue to implement the mandatory wearing of a life jacket.
A U.S. Coast Guard life jacket test program was initiated in May 2009 to determine if more stringent life jacket wear requirements would improve wear rates and decrease the number of water-related fatalities.
The test program was implemented at Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid and Grenada lakes and will conclude in May 2012.
Prior to the implementation of the test program, adult life jacket wear rates at the Mississippi lakes were below 10 percent. During the first year of the test, adult wear rates peaked in the 80 percentile and drowning fatalities dropped from seven to three deaths.
As the nation’s number one provider of water-based recreational opportunities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ goal is to minimize the potential for public drowning fatalities. This program has clearly demonstrated that the life jacket policy has increased wear rates and has clearly saved lives. Due to its success, the program will continue as it is currently structured.
The following life jacket wear requirements will remain in effect on Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, and Grenada lakes.
1. All persons must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while swimming outside of designated swimming areas.
Waivers may be issued by Corps resource managers to exempt participants of special events, such as triathlons, from this requirement while participating in the event.
2. All persons must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while skiing or being pulled by a vessel, regardless of vessel length.
3. All persons must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on powered vessels 16 to 26 feet in length whenever under power by the main propulsion unit. (This does not include when the vessel is stationary or powered by a trolling motor.)
4. All persons must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times on powered vessels less than 16 feet in length or on non-powered vessels, regardless of length. Non-powered vessels include, but are not limited to canoes, kayaks, flat bottoms/john boats, sailboats, and paddleboats.
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