Life jackets don’t work unless worn
There are many water related injuries and deaths every year that TWRA says might have turned out differently if the victim was wearing a life jacket. In the state of Tennessee, anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life vest, but it is recommended that everyone wear a fitted life vest.
TWRA Wildlife Officer, Jeff Webb says, “there are so many life jackets that are available now days. They’re no longer bulky or unstylish. The main thing is they don’t work if you don’t wear them and we just ask that if you have life jackets on board, make sure they are in good and serviceable condition and you have enough for each person on board.”
No matter how strong of a swimmer the victim might be, injuries on the water can take over quickly and a life vest is always needed to help prevent serious injury.
“No one plans to be in a boating accident; it always happens suddenly, unexpectedly,” Webb says. “We just want people to wear their life jackets so that way when that worse case scenario does happen, they’re ready and prepared for it.”
Charlie Cole is the manager of West Marine who says it is not a difficult task to choose a life jacket. The size and activity for a specific flotation device are printed in the jacket.
“Zippers and buckles,” Cole says, “I can take these up and if I were to wipe out being pulled behind a boat, with some speed, this vest is designed to keep me in. It has small arm holes and it’s really really tight fitting.”
Life jackets are not life savers, but the flotation devices can help save a life.
“Understand that health issues happen,” Matt Cameron, Public Information Officer for TWRA says, “medical issues happen to people while swimming and jumping. If you’re wearing that life jacket and you jump out of the boat, you may knock yourself unconscious but you’re going to float back up.”
All life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved.