A public awareness campaign held annually in May emphasizes the need for boaters to wears life jackets.
Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the message reinforces the importance of personal flotation devices.
“Facts prove there is no safety substitute for wearing a life jacket while recreating on public waters,” Boldt said.
Failure to wear a PFD is the main reason people lose their lives in boating accidents. Boldt said each year, about 700 people nationwide die in boating-related accidents. Nearly 70 percent are caused by drowning, and eight of 10 victims were not wearing a life jacket.
North Dakota law requires Coast Guard approved PFDs in the following circumstances:
- On watercraft less than 16 feet in length, one wearable PFD must be on board for each person.
- Anyone being towed on water-skis, surfboard, or a similar device must wear a PFD.
- No person may operate or permit the operation of a personal watercraft without each person on board wearing a PFD.
- Watercraft of 16 feet or longer must have one wearable PFD for each person on board, and one throwable flotation device.
- On any vessel less than 27 feet in length, all persons 10 years of age or younger must wear a properly fastened, Coast Guard approved PFD.
Boaters are reminded to test life jackets for serviceability and fit. All straps and buckles must be intact and there should be no rips or tears in the fabric.