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Safety Splashes

LIFE JACKETS

Facts about life jackets:

* More than two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD).

* PFDs can also help protect against death due to cold-water immersion and hypothermia, which is another contributor to boating fatalities.

* Under Oregon law, there must be at least one properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD for each person onboard the boat, including persons being towed.

* Children 12 years of age and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times while on an open deck or in the cockpit of vessels that are underway. Nonswimmers

should always wear PFDs.

* PFDs should be readily accessible for use in case of an emergency.

Proper Fit and Maintenance:

* Most adults need an extra seven to 12 pounds of buoyancy to keep their heads above water. Your weight, body fat, lung size, clothing and water conditions are factors to be considered in determining how much extra buoyancy you need. Check the label for restrictions and limitations on its use and performance type.

* To test the proper fit for an adult raise your arms as though signaling a touchdown. Look to your left and right and over your shoulders. If the chest part of the PFD does not hit your chin, then the device most likely fits.

* For children, have them stand normally with their arms at their sides. Grab the PFD at the shoulders and lift up firmly. If the PFD moves above the mid point of their ears, then the device does not fit properly.

* Always air-dry your PFD thoroughly before stowing it. Regularly inspect the devices for mildew, leaks, hardened stuffing, or insecure straps and buckles. Avoid contact with oil and grease, which causes PFDs to deteriorate and lose buoyancy.

* For inflatable PFDs, be sure to test them and replace the CO2 cartridges each year.

DRINKING AND BOATING

What you should know:

* According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is a major factor in 50 percent of recreational boating fatalities nationwide.

* Intoxicated passengers are just as likely to be hurt or killed in a boating accident as an intoxicated operator.

* A boater is considered legally "under the influence" in Oregon if the boater's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. Marine officers still can arrest boaters for observed impairment below 0.08 percent.

The Amplified Effects of Drinking While Boating:

* One alcoholic beverage on the water has the same perceived effect as having three on land, according to recent studies by the U.S. Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety.

* Alcohol consumption affects balance, vision, coordination and judgment. Environmental factors that come with boating -- such as wind, sun, noise and motion -- can magnify impairment.

* An automatic gasping response often occurs when a person's face or upper body is suddenly immersed in cold water. This is an involuntary response, and an intoxicated person is more likely to inhale water into his or her lungs when submerged into cold water.

Consequences of a BUII arrest:

* Fines of up to $6,250 and up to one year in jail

* Loss of boat operation privileges for a certain period of time

* Boat registration suspended for up to three years

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Source: Oregon State Marine Board

For more information go to www.boatoregon.com

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