Double-check life jackets

Wednesday, July 18, 2001 at 1:00am

Personal flotation devices, or flotation jackets, are rarely ever checked to make sure they're in good condition.

Tennessee boating law requires all boats, regardless of size, to carry a wearable PFD (life jacket) for each person on board. The law does not require those over the age of 12 to wear the PFD, but statistics show that more than 300 people die annually in accidents involving boats 12 to 16 feet in length. Nearly 90 percent of the victims will not be wearing PFDs.

Tennessee boating law requires children 12 and under to wear a personal flotation device while in a boat that is underway. Boats on the water are considered underway except when they are anchored, tied to a bank, or moored at a dock. The law exempts children that are inside living quarters on cruisers or houseboats.

Under the previsions of the law, the operator of the boat has the responsibility to see that children wear their life preserver. It is the boat operator who will be cited for violation of the law if children are observed without a life jacket.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offers the following tips on selecting and using PFDs:

The "Coast Guard Approved" label should be clearly visible on the life jacket.

Choose a life jacket based on your boating activities (cruising, racing, water-skiing, fishing, ect.) and conditions.

Buy a bright orange or yellow jacket so you will be visible to rescuers in the event of an accident.

Be sure to try your life jacket on and learn how to adjust it for a snug fit.

Before going out on your boat or anyone

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