In the most recent year with complete data (2014), the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4062 recreational boating accidents, in which 560 died and 2620 were injured. Of the 560 deaths, 77% drowned, and 84% of those who drowned were not wearing a life vest. Since the major cause of drowning is failing to wear a life jacket, it just makes good sense to stock you boat with life preservers for everyone on board.
To some who are strong swimmers, it may seem silly, but life preservers are no laughing matter. Weather and wave heights can change in the blink of an eye, and although we would like to be, we are not always close enough to shore to make it in before things get rough. We also aren’t usually close enough to shore to swim there. So even if you swim as strong as Michael Phelps, you probably won’t make it back to shore without a life vest and/or assistance.
Life jackets are also required by law. The U.S. Coast Guard requires anyone under the age of 13 on a moving boat to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket that fits them. And even when the law does not require life jackets, it is still a parent’s responsibility to make certain that their child is safely equipped, and a boat captain’s responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone on board to the best of his or her ability.
It’s important to be a responsible boater. It could very possibly save your life or the life of someone else. If you love to boat and you love the peeps you have on board, make sure you have life preservers for each and every one of them.