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Life Jacket Wear Initiative Encourages Safe Boating in the Delta

Campaign Kick-Off Event May 16 in Sacramento


Contact:  Gloria Sandoval (916) 651-5692
cell (916) 715-1657

May 13, 2009


SACRAMENTO - The 2009 Wear It California! life jacket campaign kicks off May 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Discovery Park in Sacramento. The campaign, promoted by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW), will encourage Delta boaters to wear their life jackets and practice boating safety techniques.

"Life jackets are the number one proven way to save a life in the event of a boating accident," said USCG Office of Boating Safety Chief of Program Operations John Malatak. "The success of the Wear It California! campaign is directly linked to its effectiveness in inspiring boaters to develop good habits that include putting on their life jackets before heading out on the water and not just storing them in their boats."

Boaters are invited to partake in kickoff event activities, which include, pledging to wear a life jacket in order to receive a new and trendy inflatable one, trading-in an outgrown or unsafe child's life jacket for a new one, or receiving a free vessel safety check from the USCG Auxiliary. Other boating professionals will also be on site distributing promotional material and boating safety information to encourage boaters to hit the water this summer, but safely and responsibly. Life jacket supplies are limited. One per family.

The Wear It California! campaign is part of a national effort designed to increase life jacket wear rates among recreational boaters and sport enthusiasts. For the past two years, the California campaign has been successful in promoting life jacket use. Wear rates in the Delta rose from six percent in 2006 to 13 percent in 2007, while remaining largely flat in other areas of the country. This measured success has motivated other states to adopt the program in their communities.

The campaign will distribute over 700 inflatable life jackets at 10 different marina events along the Delta this summer. To be eligible, boaters must present a signed pledge card to the Wear It California! crew at one of the marina events. The pledge card, which states that boaters promise to wear a life jacket while boating, can be downloaded from the campaign's Web site or can be filled out at one of the marina events. A complete list of all participating marinas and events may be viewed on the campaign's Web site at www.WearItCalifornia.com.

The Delta region, a haven for hundreds of thousands of boaters each year, was chosen for the campaign not only because of its immense popularity, but also due to its fairly significant contribution to the state's overall boating statistics. Overall, the state's boating fatalities were down last year, but fatalities in the Delta were up from 4 in 2007 to 15 in 2008.

"The Delta is one of the state's "hot spots" in terms of water recreation," said DBW Director Raynor T. Tsuneyoshi. "This collaborative initiative represents an opportunity to ensure that boating on the Delta is a safe and enjoyable activity for all."

Key partners in the Wear it California! campaign include the National Safe Boating Council, Nautique, Bass Pro Shops, the Stockton Ports, West Marine, Radio Disney, Togo's, the USCG Auxiliary, and many marinas and law enforcement agencies throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area. Sacramento's KHTK radio personalities Sep Hendrickson of California Sportsmen, Kent Brown of Ultimate Bass and all time Western U.S. fishing tournament money winner Gary Dobyns have also signed on as campaign spokespersons and will be appearing at campaign events throughout the summer.

The joint effort will utilize a full range of marketing strategies and tools to promote key messages regarding the importance of wearing - and not just stowing - life jackets on board one's boat. Promotion activities will include radio advertising, events, signage at boat ramps and marinas, celebrity appearances, and a customized "Campaign Tour Boat" provided by Nautique and manned by trained staff that will cruise the Delta throughout the summer months, distributing life jackets and safety messages to recreational boaters.

During all of these promotions, boating safety advocates will emphasize the advantages of the modern styles of life jackets now available. Unlike the traditional orange horse collar of yesteryears, today's life jackets are technologically advanced, making them more convenient, less restrictive - and sometimes - even unnoticeable to the boater who is wearing one. An additional advantage to boaters is that life jackets are now custom-designed for their specific water activities, i.e. fishing, cruising, water-skiing, etc.

For more information about the Wear it California! campaign, visit www.WearItCalifornia.com or call (916) 651-5692.

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California Department of Boating and Waterways
DBW's mission is to provide safe and convenient public access to California's waterways and leadership in promoting the public's right to safe, enjoyable and environmentally sound recreational boating.