Arizona officials encourage boating safety after 13 fatalities in 2022

May 13, 2023, 3:00 PM

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Game & Fish Department)...

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Game & Fish Department)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Game & Fish Department)

PHOENIX — As boating season shifts into gear, officials are encouraging people to be safe on Arizona’s waters after 13 people died in accidents last year.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said one of the best ways to stay safe is by wearing a life jacket.

“A life jacket does exactly what it says — it saves your life when you need it,” Danny Rodriguez, watercraft law enforcement programs coordinator for the agency, said in a press release.

“However, it can only save your life if you’re wearing one and often it’s too late to put one on once you realize you need it.”

Statistics back this up as the U.S. Coast Guard found 86% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket in recreational boating accidents where the cause of death has been determined, according to the release.

It is also important that the life jacket is in good condition.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department announced it will conduct a series of summer life jacket exchange events beginning on May 20 and lasting through June 10 at various locations, offering people the chance to exchange their old, worn out or improperly fitting life jacket for a new one free of charge.

“Like anything else, life jackets wear out with time and these exchange events are a great opportunity for Arizona’s boaters and paddlers to ensure they have a life jacket that not only fits correctly but is in great condition and ready should they need it,” Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator, said in the release.

Exchange location times and dates can be found online.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department also urge people to follow safety regulations and laws, as well as designate a sober operator.

The agency said boating accidents last year also injured 60 people and resulted in $1 million in damages.

Three people have died so far this year in boating accidents in Arizona, according to the department.

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Arizona officials encourage boating safety after 13 fatalities in 2022