Trying to find the perfect gift for the holidays?
If you have a boater in your life, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an idea for that last-minute stocking stuffer: boating safety equipment. It may not sound sexy, but the gift of lifesaving equipment may be a gift of life.
An inflatable life jacket could possibly be the best gift any boater could hope for during the holidays. Add either an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) under the tree and you’re assured the boater in your life will be safer on the water.
The FWC recommends boaters wear life jackets all of the time while on the water, and the use of an inflatable life jacket makes it easy to comfortably wear one every time you go boating.
“A lot of people say they don’t wear life jackets because they feel they’re uncomfortable,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of the FWC. “However, with the inflatable models that are belt packs or suspenders, you hardly know you have one on. A life jacket that will be worn all of the time will make a great gift.”
There are two types of inflatables, some that inflate automatically when a person falls into the water, while others inflate after the wearer pulls a cord. Prices of the belt pack and suspender life jackets start at around $70.
For many boaters an EPRIB or PLB can make a big difference if an emergency occurs on the water. These devices send a signal via satellite to search-and-rescue agencies so rescuers don’t waste time and effort trying to locate the boaters in need; they can go directly to the beacon to provide assistance. An EPRIB or PLB can be purchased online or at most sporting goods stores, and prices start at around $239.
“People don’t expect to fall overboard or that their boat will break down or sink,” Shipp said, but it can and does happen. “New technology in the form of an inflatable life jacket or an emergency beacon can improve their chances of survival and give peace of mind to family and friends.”
As the weather and water cools off, it may seem that people aren’t boating as much around Florida. However due to holidays, family vacations, and water related hunting activities, there are still plenty of boaters out and about throughout the state. This is not the time to drop your guard while on the water. People should always wear a life jacket and keep up the safe boating.