A recent media release from the U. S. Coast Guard struck me as being a bit like an old story I heard once about a young reporter who approached Frank Sinatra in the lobby of a hotel. “What’s it like to be sexy, rich, and famous?”, the somewhat naive journalist queried. Sinatra looked down at the floor as if to give due ponderance to such a profound question, and then looked straight into the reporter’s eyes and said, “GOOD!”

So when I read the media release from the Coast Guard, I was wondering what the response might have been if, instead of Frank Sinatra, the reporter would have approached a representative of the Coast Guard with the question, “What do you think of life jackets?”. I suspect the answer may have been similar to “They’re GOOD!”

It certainly is no surprise to read that a high-ranking Coast Guard Officer sings the praises of the boater’s most valuable life saving device. But when you see it in print, with the numbers, and read between the lines to feel the sincere plea behind the words, it takes on a very high degree of seriousness.

I’ve been preaching PFD’s since long before the development of Commander Bob’s web site, but nobody can say it like the Coast Guard.

“Lifejackets! Purchase one and, wear it when on the water. Wearing a Coast Guard approved lifejacket is one of the best insurance policies you have. After one year in this job and reviewing all of the accident reports that come through our office, I cannot stress enough the fact that lifejackets save lives!,? said Captain Scott Evans, Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard?s Office of Boating Safety in Washington, D.C.

?In 2000 alone, 701 recreational boaters died of which 519 were due to drowning. The evidence clearly shows that 455 of the 519 may would probably have survived if they had just been wearing a Coast Guard approved lifejacket. That this fact is more than just tragic; it is appalling. Just think, in one year alone 455 of our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, relatives and friends would be alive today if they would have only had a lifejacket on. With that in mind, we; the media, the public, the States and the Coast Guard, must continue to get the word out to boaters to wear lifejackets,? said Evans.

?As one of my primary messages for the 2002 boating season, I elected to emphasize the safety returns that occur when boaters wear Coast Guard approved lifejackets that fit properly. In particular, I am appealing to those who go out in boats 16 feet in length and under. Regrettably, 337 of the 701 boaters who perished during 2000 were on 16-ft or less boats. This is message is especially important for canoeist, kayakers, anglers and those hunters who tend to be in these smaller vessels. Day after day I read reports about people unexpectedly ending up in the water, either by capsizing, being hit by waves or the wake from other boats, collisions, and by just falling overboard. In almost all of these cases, when the victims were wearing a lifejacket, they survived; those who died were not wearing a lifejacket.”

Evans stressed, ?No matter how safe we try to make boating, accidents will happen. The lifejacket is like a reserve parachute?you hope you will never have to use it, but in the end it is the very last chance survival if all else fails and only works if it is being worn. Statistics show all too clearly that purchasing and wearing a Coast Guard approved lifejacket may well be the best investment a boater makes,? said Evans.

There. Now you’ve heard it from your safe boating instructors, me, a guest author on this web site, and the Coast Guard. Don’t take a chance with your life or the lives of your family or passengers. Wear a life jacket and see that others do, too.