WSF safety campaign doubles goal

The Water Sports Foundation, in collaboration with the Hispanic Communications Network (HCN), completed a highly successful Spanish-language educational campaign promoting life jacket wear to Latino families in the United States. The campaign more than doubled its goal of 6.3 million media impressions, delivering 12.8 million safe boating messages via radio, television and online.

The campaign ran from May 15 to June 8, 2023, and included the distribution of public service announcements through La Red Hispana’s affiliate radio stations and integrations on its Bienvenidos a America show, a dedicated page on the La Red Hispana website and the distribution of messages through digital platforms. The campaign also included an RMT/SMT (Radio and Satellite Media Tour) which consisted of 19 radio interviews and six TV interviews featuring safety advocate Henry Cespedes of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Funding for this campaign, now in its seventh year, comes from a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund administered by the Coast Guard.

“The campaign emphasizes that wearing a life jacket for water-related activities should be as habitual and natural as wearing seatbelts in your car. Safety on the water involves every single member of the family, and it starts with wearing a properly fitted life jacket. Incidents happen very quickly and when they do there’s no time to put on a life jacket. That’s why we urge everyone to always wear their life jacket,” said Water Sports Foundation (WSF) Executive Director Jim Emmons.

According to the 2022 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics Report, where the cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating incidents victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

More than eight out of 10 deaths during water-related activities occurred when the victims were not wearing a life jacket, even though life jackets were available on the boat. Therefore, it is essential that everyone on the boat wears a life jacket. Statistics also show that the Latino community has one of the highest percentages of people, especially children, who don’t know how to swim.

The campaign reminds boaters that new light weight Coast Guard approved inflatable life jackets for adults are more comfortable and less restrictive than ever before. These include models that inflate automatically when the wearer falls into the water.

“This campaign is very important for all of us here at HCN, which is why we continue our efforts together with WSF to help create a culture of water safety among our Latino families, through our Public Service Announcements on La Red Hispana and HCN’s network of affiliate stations, and digital platforms,” said Alison Rodden, CEO of the HCN.

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