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Boaters urged to wear life jackets
Event kicks off National Safe Boating Week
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Nick and Jennifer Overby stop by Saturday to let their daughter Erin, 5, and son Jake, 1, take a closer look at the Hall County Fire Services Marine Rescue boat at West Marine in Buford. Hall County Fire Services and West Marine partnered for the “Ready! Set! Wear It!” event to heighten awareness of life jacket use in water.

With the summer season fast approaching and temperature rising, the number of days people spend in the water also will quickly increase.

This year’s National Safe Boating Week kicked off Saturday with “Ready! Set! Wear It!” at West Marine on the south end of Lake Lanier.

The event has been held annually for three years by the National Safe Boating Council. This year, the Canadian Safe Boating Council also joined forces to promote the importance of wearing life jackets on the water.

Educators from West Marine and Hall County Fire Services were on hand to pass out flyers and pamphlets to customers explaining the importance of life jackets and overall water safety.

Hall County Fire Service’s marine rescue boat, along with a new personal watercraft, were on display for people to take pictures with or simply observe.

At noon, everyone in attendance of the event put on life jackets at the store’s entrance in an attempt to break the world record for most life jackets worn and inflated around the world. Last year, 1,685 participants from six countries helped to break the previous standing record.

Rachel Johnson, communications director for the National Safe Boating Council, knows the importance of life jackets to those in and on the water after working with the council for over four years.

“‘Ready! Set! Wear It!’ is an opportunity for boaters to show their support for such an important message,” she said. “If more boaters chose to wear life jackets at all times while boating, there would be (fewer) drownings, something we can all be proud of helping to achieve.”

Last year in Georgia, there were 15 deaths from boating accidents. Lt. Beverley Walker of Hall County Fire Services said wearing life jackets can save lives.

“They should be worn at all times, by all ages,” said Walker, who helped plan this year’s event.

“Drownings on Lake Lanier were very high last year, and we are working to reduce that number. People are drowning on our lake, and we want to prevent that from occurring. Visiting the lake should be a fun and enjoyable event, not a tragic one.”

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