Life-saving Holiday Gift for Boaters

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Newer, comfortable models of life jackets that are belt packs or suspenders make great holiday gifts.Have you been wandering the shopping mall trying to find the perfect gift for the holidays? If your loved one is a boater, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a suggestion. A new, comfortable life jacket could be the best gift you could ever give, and your loved one ever to receive.

The FWC investigates boating accidents that result in drowning deaths, which may have been prevented had the victim been wearing a life jacket. The FWC recommends boaters wear life jackets all the time while on the water.

“A lot of people don’t wear life jackets because they feel they’re uncomfortable,” said Lt. Ed Cates, the FWC’s assistant boating safety coordinator. “However, with the newer models that are belt packs or suspenders, you hardly know you have one on. Replacing an old, bulky life jacket with a newer model would make a great gift.”

Belt pack and suspender life jackets are inflatable. Some inflate automatically when a person falls into the water, while others inflate after the wearer pulls a cord. Prices of the belt pack and suspender life jackets start at around $60.

“People don’t expect their boat to sink, to be involved in a boating accident or that they will fall overboard, but it happens, so wearing a life jacket all the time makes sense.” Cates said. “Even for good swimmers, if you’re wearing a life jacket, your chances of survival are greatly enhanced.”

Last year, there were 54 boating fatalities. Of those deaths, 38 were due to drowning.

“The gift of a life jacket may be a gift of life,” Cates said. “The giver and receiver would like that gift best of all.”