Next time a sheriff’s deputy boards your boat and finds you don’t have proper life jackets, he may give you a loan instead of a ticket.
Health Districts in Asotin, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties have used federal funding to distribute dozens of high-quality life jackets to their sheriff’s departments to help spread the word about the number one way to prevent boating deaths.
Drowning deaths could be reduced dramatically if all boaters would wear life jackets, Coast Guard officials say.
A new Coast Guard rule requires boats shorter than 16 feet and canoes and kayaks of any length to carry wearable personal flotation devices on all waters in Washington.
Under the new rule, small boats no longer can satisfy the requirements by carrying only throwable personal flotation devices (PFDs).
Spokane County has an even tougher rule, requiring that a life jacket must be worn by anyone floating the Spokane River in any type of vessel, including inner tubes.
Here’s how the new life jacket loan program works.
Generally, marine officers will loan the jackets to boaters and issue a warning instead of issuing a citation for inadequate life jackets on board, said Julie Awbrey, Spokane County water recreation program manager.
The life jackets later must be returned to a specific site or the warning will revert to a ticket, she said. Info: 324-1570.