Water Safety and PFD's
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR PFD LATELY???
According to recent information from the DNR, there has been an increasing number of citations issued for failure to have a personal flotation device (PFD) or life vest on board the boat and readily accessible and suitable for each person. Failure to comply with the PFD requirement is a misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $50 to $1,000. DNR officers and deputies on water
patrol may challenge boaters to hod up life jackets to demonstrate their immediate availability.
A recent incident on Ruth Lake in Crow Wing County forced three boaters to swim ashore wearing life jackets when their motor caught fire.
While the DNR strongly encourages, but does not require, boaters to wear life jackets, their figures indicate PFDs would prevent about 80 percent of boating fatalities. Tim Smalley, boating specialist for the DNR explains that if a life jacket is not immediately available, "the chances of drowning have increased tenfold... . Very seldom do we find someone drowned with a life jacket on."
According to the 2001 Minnesota Boating Guide, the following requirements are listed for a PFDs:
1. On all boats (except a sailboard), regardless of length (including canoes, kayaks and duck boats), there must be a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved wearable PFD or life jacket for each person on board. (A throwable device such as a buoyant cushion, is no longer acceptable as a primary lifesaving device.)
2. In addition, on boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) at least one USCG approved throwable device, such as a buoyant cushion, must also be immediately available.
3. Anyone operating or riding on a personal watercraft (water scooters, jet skis, etc.) MUST WEAR a USCG approved PFD or life jacket.
4. A USCG approved PFD must be worn by a person being towed on water skis or other device, or carried in the towing watercraft.
5. NOTE: "Readily accessible" means easy to reach in an emergency. PFDs in plastic bags, locked lockers, or under anchors or line are NOT accessible.
Don't take chances. Remember, the law states a readily accessible USCG approved wearable life jacket must be available for each person in the boat.
Practice safe boating and enjoy yourself!
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