Game Wardens Report Kids Not Wearing Life Jackets

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Life Jackets Save Life'sDespite a law mandating life jacket wear for kids, Nevada game wardens are reporting a disturbing trend on local waterways. Many children are not wearing life jackets while boating. The law was changed early this year upping the age requirement by one year, and now all children under the age of 13 years are required to wear life jackets while underway on a boat.

“We only have anecdotal information on this issue right now,” said Lieutenant David Pfiffner, the supervising game warden on Lake Mead. “But we issued enough citations over the holiday weekend that we want to again emphasize how important life jackets are, particularly to this vulnerable population.”

Over the Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the kickoff to boating season, game wardens issued at least 11 tickets for kids not wearing life jackets, alarming wardens and other boating officers who patrol and enforce state law. “Kids can drown in a second, so we really want to encourage parents to make sure their children have life jackets and are wearing them,” said Pfiffner. People who ride Personal Watercraft (PWCs) and people who are towed behind a boat are also required to wear life jackets, he said.

Besides life jacket wear, game wardens also remind boaters that people born on or after January 1, 1983 must take a boating education course to operate a motorboat of more than 15 horsepower on Lakes Mead and Mohave and on the Colorado River near Laughlin.

The boating education correspondence course can be ordered online at Boaters can also choose to take it online at this address as well. There are also several other organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, that offer safe boating courses.

“People really should take the course, even if it is not required,” said Captain Fred Messmann, Nevada’s boating law administrator. “Our statistics clearly show that people who take a boating course get in fewer accidents. Taking a course can even save boaters money on their insurance.”

Even if a boater is not required to wear a life jacket or take a boating course, both of these safety tips are great precautions for a safe boating trip. “People don’t think about life jackets or a boating course until they get into trouble on the lake,” said Pfiffner. “We could avoid a lot of accidents and fatalities if boaters would take a few precautions ahead of time.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit