Rewarding Kids Who Wear Life Jackets
This summer, families with children will be looking to "get caught" by the Missouri State Highway Patrol while boating. That's because the Water Patrol Division is handing out free t-shirts to children wearing a life jacket while boating on the Lake of the Ozarks. In partnership with Ameren Missouri, the t-shirts are a nice reward for being safe and a fun reminder to always wear a life jacket.
"Parents set an example for their kids every day. Start every boating trip by wearing your life jacket and make sure your children are wearing life jackets too. It's such a simple lesson that can save a life," said Bryan Vance, environmental and shoreline compliance specialist, Ameren Missouri. "We want everyone to have a safe and fun time at the Lake of the Ozarks and return home safe."
In Missouri, children under the age of seven are required to wear a life jacket while boating. It's important for boaters to be familiar with their life jackets and ensure they fit properly. The most common error for youth life jackets is allowing children to wear ones that are too big. If a child's life jacket is too big or not tightened properly, it may not support their head above water.
To choose a properly fitting life jacket:
Choose a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is right for the child's weight.
Tighten all straps until snug.
Check the fit by lifting up on the shoulders of the life jacket. If it hits the top of the child's ears, it's too big.
There are many styles of life jackets that provide style and comfort for recreational boaters. Self-inflating models which resemble suspenders or even a waist pouch are available for adults.
"To date in 2019, we've had 19 drowning incidents on Missouri lakes and rivers. Drownings can occur quickly and often involve victims who consider themselves good swimmers. Life jackets save lives," said Captain Matt Walz with the Water Patrol Division. "Don't wait. Start every boating trip by wearing your life jacket."
Ameren Missouri and the Missouri State Highway Patrol encourage all boaters, regardless of age, to wear a life jacket when on the water.