By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — To stress the importance of water safety to Hoosier youth, Indiana Conservation Officers from the Department of Natural Resources and Boys & Girls Clubs join forces annually and host a coloring contest under the guise of “Wear It Indiana.
The joint effort stresses the importance of wearing a proper fitting life jacket when on a boat or participating water activities on lakes, rivers or streams.
Rush County resident Lexis Haden, 9, was recently named the 2013 winner and presented her very own life jacket by DNR officer Gary Catron and Chet Walker, CPO of the Rush County Boys & Girls Club.
Catron said the public outreach campaign is designed to enlighten and encourage the use of personal flotation devices (life jackets) while boaters and swimmers are enjoying Indiana waterways.
Drowning is the number one cause of death in recreational boating accidents and in 90 percent of drowning fatalities life jackets were not worn by the victims.
Life jackets should be fitted properly based on the water activity one is participating in. The lifesaving device should be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved and all fasteners, zippers, belts and snaps should be functional. Once secured, the jacket should not hamper or interfere with arm movement or breathing.