The Sea Tow Foundation – a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to the education and promotion of safe boating practices – has announced the launch of its newest social media campaign – a program it calls Vest Friends.
Vest friends are two or more people wearing life jackets and sharing a photo or video of themselves on social media to promote life jacket wear. The Long Island-based nonprofit hopes to spread awareness among boaters about the importance of always wearing life jackets when on the water by encouraging boaters to share a photo of themselves and their friends wearing life jackets on social media by using the hashtag #VestFriends.
Each year, more than 500 people die from drowning related to recreational boating and more than 80 percent of those people were not wearing a life jacket. With more boaters on the water in the summer months than any other time of year, the Foundation says it is critical to try to make a difference in the number of those wearing life jackets as soon as possible.
“We’re always looking for fun, creative ways to engage with young boaters,” said Gail R. Kulp, the Sea Tow Foundation’s executive director. “What better way to do so than by utilizing social media? By encouraging boaters to share photos of themselves and their friends wearing their life jackets, we hope to get more people used to always wearing one.”
The campaign will help supplement and support the Sea Tow Foundation’s seminal Life Jacket Loaner Program, which places stations at marinas, boat landings and other boating hot-spots at over 400 locations around the country where boaters can borrow life jackets for the day, free of charge.
By placing materials at each of the Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Stations, boaters who visit the stations will be encouraged to take a photo with their nominated Vest Friend to share on Facebook and Instagram. Select photos shared with #VestFriends will be highlighted on the program’s dedicated social media channels and website.
Kulp said the program is all about creating and fostering a relationship that will help boaters everywhere associate life jackets with a positive and fun experience.
“Our main goal is to ensure all boaters have a fun and safe day on the water each and every time they leave the dock,” Kulp added. “Ensuring each passenger has access to a properly-fitting life jacket is one of the keys to that. By showing off their Vest Friends, boaters everywhere can help demonstrate how having fun and being safe can be two sides to the same coin.”