Not wearing a life jacket is like playing Russian Roulette with your life

LOS ANGELES – This past weekend the Coast Guard and other rescuers searched the waters about 100 feet from a breakwater in southern California for a man who fell overboard from a small boat. The man was not wearing a lifejacket. Unfortunately stories like this are not that uncommon, boaters and their passengers unexpectedly find themselves in the water all too often. Some survive and unfortunately some do not. This man did not survive. Not wearing a life jacket while boating, including, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding is like playing “Russian Roulette.” The chances of a non-swimmer surviving a fall overboard if not wearing a lifejacket are remote if not rescued quickly.

Coast Guard personnel, including the Auxiliary are required to wear lifejackets at all times while underway on vessels under 65 feet in length. “Not to wear a lifejacket whether you are a swimmer or not is to take an unnecessary risk – you never know when you might end up in the water”, said Senior Chief Richard Cheyney, the Officer in Charge of Coast Guard Station – Los Angeles/Long Beach.

There many excuses for not wearing a life jacket, such as “they are uncomfortable” or “too expensive.” U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets range in price from as low as $15.00 to about $400.00 for the top of the line inflatable, although, even the most expensive life jacket is of no value if it is not worn.

It is undisputable a life jacket can and will save a life if properly worn – but what about preventing boating accidents in the first place. Since most boating accidents are caused by operator inattention, inexperience, and speeding resulting in collisions, remembering and following a few simple boating rules of the road, such as keeping a sharp lookout for other boat traffic, can help prevent collisions.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the United States Coast Guard. Created by an Act of Congress in 1939, the Auxiliary directly supports the Coast Guard in all missions, except military and direct law enforcement actions.

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