Wearing a life jacket is just as important as wearing a seatbelt. Yet, many people still choose not to. Whether it’s on a cruise through Lahaina or a boat ride to the Kaneohe sandbar, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore the open seas; just please do so with safety in mind.

Sadly, more than 80-percent of victims who drowned while on a boat were not wearing life jackets, according to a report by the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. That’s even with it being the law.

Anyone on a canoe, kayak or boat should be wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Even if you’re riding a personal watercraft (like a Jet Ski) or being towed behind a vessel (water skiing or kneeboarding), you must be wearing a life jacket.

I know, life jackets can get in the way – especially if you’re doing a lot of movement like paddling a kayak. But lets just say survival outweighs comfort in any situation, so tough it out and have fun. The good thing is that you most likely won’t need to buy a life jacket. Most businesses that offer boat or kayak tours will provide them for passengers. They will also demonstrate how to wear a life jacket properly, making sure it fits snuggly.

To promote safety on boats, the Coast Guard, Fire Department and Ocean Safety Bureau on Kauai welcome the public every year to a National Boating Day at Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor. The theme of the annual event is “Wear It – Always Wear a Life Jacket.” Hopefully, an event like this will make it to Oahu or other islands. It’s important to spread the word about boating safety and the importance of wearing a life jacket.

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