Boating officials from three states are teaming up once again to stress the importance of wearing a life jacket at the ninth annual Tri-State Boating Safety Fair at the Colorado River. The event will take place May 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at London Bridge Beach Park, 1340 McCulloch Blvd., Lake Havasu City.
The event coincides with the kickoff of National Boating Safety Week (May 19-25) and the “Ready, Set, Wear It” life jacket campaign sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council in partnership with the Canadian Safe Boating Council.
As in past years, a hallmark of the event will be the life jacket trade-in. People may bring their old life jackets and get free new ones, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, while supplies last. All told, officials expect to give away about 400 life jackets.
Other activities at the safety fair include complimentary boating safety information and free boat inspections for proper safety equipment.
Boating professionals and others also will participate in an attempt to break the record for simultaneous life jacket wear worldwide. The goal is not only to promote the comfortable and versatile options when it comes to life jackets, but also to educate the public about life jackets and safe boating in general. At Lake Havasu, the life jacket event will take place at noon at the park.
“We have seen these events morph over the years, as we try ever more elaborate ways to get through to boaters,” said Kevin Bergersen, boating law administrator at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We are doing all we can to let boaters know that life jackets are comfortable, fashionable and most importantly, can save your life in a boating accident.”
In addition to life jacket wear, boating professionals will be on hand to answer questions, hand out information, and distribute promotional and safety items for children. The Coast Guard Auxiliary, local law enforcement agencies, and other groups will be available to cover every kind of summer safety topic.
“We have seen this event grow in participation and importance through the years,” said David Pfiffner, Nevada’s boating law administrator. “We know how to help boaters on Havasu and along the entire Colorado River have a safe, enjoyable summer. We just encourage boaters to come by and take a few minutes to catch up on information that could save a life.”
After the main event, the three states have teamed up to provide information all summer long on the website www.BoatColoradoRiver.com, and through targeted outreach efforts using social media.
“Boaters who cannot make the event are encouraged to visit the website to find out about the different boating laws that exist on the Colorado River,” said Lucia Becerra, California’s boating law administrator. “The website also has information on how to select an appropriate life jacket.”
The lower Colorado River System is shared by Arizona, California and Nevada. If taken as its own boating entity, the Colorado River System is the second most dangerous waterway in America, including the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. State lines artificially slice up the system, so the three states have come together to talk about the river holistically. While many laws are congruent, a few laws differ and can confuse boaters. Providing a forum to the thousands of Colorado River boaters to learn about the different boating laws is crucial to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities that occur every year.
The life jacket campaign is funded by a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, and is administered by the Coast Guard.