From the Washington State Injury and Violence Prevention Guide, Jan 2013
Washington State has one of the highest numbers of registered boats in the nation. Boating carries risks for injury. The 2010 Coast Guard national report shows that in the United States:
* There were 4,967 boating accidents
* There were 3,474 boating injuries
* The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels
* Almost 3/4 of all fatal boating deaths were due to drowning; of those, 88% were not wearing a life jacket
* 21 children under the age of 13 lost their lives while boating in 2010, 42% drowned
It is estimated that 85% of Washington State's boating-related drowning deaths could have been prevented if the person had been wearing a life jacket. In 2011, alcohol was involved in 20% of all reported boating fatalities. In Washington in 2011, there were 15 boating-related deaths and 54 injuries reported to the Coast Guard.
Parents of children who do not wear life jackets commonly cite their own proximity to the child and to the life jacket, and the child's swimming ability as common reasons for not requiring their child to wear a life jacket.
Children reported that they did not wear life jackets for the following reasons:
* They could swim (29%)
* They could grab the life jacket quickly if they needed it (27%)
* There was no life jacket available (18%)
Young children should wear life jackets whenever they are around deep water, such as on a dock or on a beach. The majority of drowning incidents occur from small water craft. Washington State's Boating Safety Regulation states: children 12 years of age and under are required to wear US Coast Guard approved life jackets on boats less than 19 feet. The injury prevention community recommends that ALL passengers and operators wear life jackets on boats, canoes, kayaks, and on rafts less than 16 feet.