Fit to Float lifejacket campaign launched

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To raise awareness about the importance of wearing lifejackets to prevent boating fatalities, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, PFD manufacturer Stearns Inc., and outdoor supplies retailer Bass Pro Shops are teaming up on the nationwide “Fit to Float” campaign, the Auxiliary reported in a recent statement.

The goal of the “Fit to Float” campaign is to prevent drownings across the U.S. by educating the public on the importance of wearing a proper fitting life jacket.

“It’s about more than just wearing a lifejacket,” said Peter Urgola, Chief of the Vessel Examinations Department of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. “It’s also about wearing the right lifejacket. Many people think they can use their lifejackets for years and years, or hand them down from one generation to the next. Truth is, lifejackets get worn out and lose their effectiveness. You need to check lifejackets for wear and buoyancy at least once a year.”

Urgola said an old, faded, waterlogged, leaky or ill-fitted PFD can be dangerous in that they provide a false sense of security, and should be discarded.

“A poor fitting PFD can sometimes do more harm than good,” Urgola said. “Lifejackets that are too big will push up around your face and prevent you from breathing. Lifejackets that are too small won’t keep you afloat. Also, lifejackets meant for adults do not work for children.”

The “Fit to Float” campaign features a lifejacket exchange. The public can trade-in their old or ill-fitting lifejackets at a local Bass Pro Shop store and receive a discount off the purchase of a new light, less restrictive Stearns lifejacket or Sospenders brand inflatable PFD. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Stearns, Inc. Safety Team will be at the stores on select dates to demonstrate the proper fit of a lifejacket and answer questions. The trade-in program will be held during Bass Pro Shop’s Boating and Camping Classics, which runs thru June 2007.

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