COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft is again joining with boating agencies and organizations across the nation in an annual effort to raise awareness of boater safety programs.
During National Safe Boating Week, which runs May 16-22, the ODNR Division of Watercraft will underscore the importance of properly wearing a life jacket while boating and promote various other boating safety initiatives. Proper and consistent use of life jackets remains the best way to increase safety while on the water. Ohio law requires life jackets be worn while riding a personal watercraft, while waterskiing or being towed by a similar device and for children less than 10 years old on any vessel less than 18 feet in length.
The National Safe Boating Council, which sponsors the observance of National Safe Boating Week, reports that approximately 90 percent of all boating-related fatalities resulted from drowning and that 70 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets when incidents occurred.
Here are some of the boating safety awareness programs that will be offered during National Safe Boating Week:
“Wear It Ohio!” Campaign – This boating safety campaign begins its second season May 23 with special land-based marketing events scheduled for Portage Lakes, Caesar Creek, Buck Creek and Buckeye Lake state parks. Its primary component is a life jacket loaner program in which more than 300 brand new inflatable life vests will be loaned to Ohio boaters ages 18 and older with a valid I.D. and who agree to sign the Wear It Ohio! campaign pledge. The weekend campaign events continue through mid-July.
Boating Safety Education Programs – More than a dozen approved boating safety education courses are offered by the Division of Watercraft and its boating partners in observance of National Safe Boating Week. Ohioans born on or after January 1, 1982 must be able to show proof they have successfully completed an approved boater safety course if they operate any watercraft powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. ODNR reports that approximately 4 of every 5 boat operators involved in a boating accident on Ohio waterways have not taken a boater safety course.
Vessel Safety Checks – The Division of Watercraft and its boating partners are offering more than 50 free vessel safety inspection events at public boat launch ramps statewide in observance of National Safe Boating Week. The inspections help ensure that all required safety equipment, including life jackets, is in proper working order and aboard the boat before it is launched onto the water.
Boating Safety Messages – The Division of Watercraft begins its boating safety awareness media advertising campaign May 15 to kickoff National Safe Boating Week with public service messages about the importance of wearing life jackets while boating. The Division of Watercraft reminds Ohioans that boating safety begins with the choices boaters make before leaving the dock.
Additional information on date, time and location of boating education courses, vessel safety checks and Wear it Ohio! campaign events is available online at www.ohiodnr.com and by calling the Division of Watercraft toll-free at 877-4BOATER.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.