If you going to be within driving distance of Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Saturday, May 18, you can help break a world record, and enjoy a day's free admission to the park. All you need to bring is yourself'and a life jacket.
The ''Ready, Set, Wear It' Life Jacket World Record Day" is part of the kick-off for National Safe Boating Week (May 18-24) and is one of 150 simultaneous events scheduled around the world.
The goal of the May 18 events is break a record set last year when 3,993 people participated worldwide at events held at 128 locations in the U. S. plus seven in Canada, six in Japan, three in Australia and one each in Mexico and Brazil.
Campaign Timed For Start of Summer Boating Season
According to a spokesperson for the National Safe Boating Council, "The campaign is timed just before the Memorial Day weekend, the 'unofficial start of summer' when in the upper states the water is dangerously cold and throughout America, historically, a large number of boating incidents occur."
At 11 a.m., Lake Mead participants will put on their life jackets at four separate locations in the park: Las Vegas Boat Harbor, Katherine Landing, Cottonwood Cove and Meadview, in hopes of breaking last year's world record. To help increase participation, visitors who show up with their life jackets and plan to attend the event will be given free entrance into the park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 18.
Saving Lives With Life Jackets
A key goal of the effort is to remind everyone that life jackets really do make a difference when you're having fun on the water. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in 70 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2011, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
'Each year, as many as 500 lives could have been saved if boaters had worn their life jackets,' said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. 'New life jackets on the market today make it easier than ever for a boater to have fun and stay safe on the water.'
At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, eight people reportedly drowned in 2012. Of those, none were wearing a life jacket. 'Whether boating, fishing or swimming, a life jacket can and will save your life,' said Mark Hnat, supervisory park ranger at Lake Mead NRA. 'We're encouraging people to come out to the park before Memorial Day to make sure their life jackets are as ready for the season as they are.'
Events Planned At Lake Mead
Lake Mead NRA actually includes two major lakes: Mead and Mohave, and both include facilities in both Arizona and Nevada. "Ready, Set, Wear It" activities are planned to include all of those possibilities.
At Las Vegas Boat Harbor, located near Boulder City, Nevada, area city and county leaders will issue proclamations at 10 a.m. recognizing Safe Boating Week in Southern Nevada. Then, at 11 a.m., visitors will gather in the parking lot and put on their life jackets to demonstrate their commitment to water safety. Each interested participant will be recorded and counted toward the new world record.
If they'd like, visitors at this location may also have their life jackets inspected by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and there's a real incentive for doing so, in addition to the obvious safety benefits of ensuring the jackets are in shape for the boating season.
Replacements Offered for Worn Out Life Jackets
'It's important to inspect your life jacket every year,' said Jennifer Winston, NDOW's boating education coordinator-Southern Nevada. 'Buckles and straps can deteriorate in the desert heat, and you can outgrow your jacket over time. If we identify worn out jackets, we'll exchange them at no cost during the event.'
Information booths, displays and Coastie the talking robot boat will be set up at the marina until 1 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will also conduct free vessel examinations at the launch ramp. 'Even experienced boaters need a vessel safety check,' said Mark Himes, public affairs officer for District 11SR, Division 9, Flotilla 96. 'Our flotilla teams will check your registration, personal floatation devices, visual distress signals, ventilation and more. Boats that pass the examination are awarded a distinctive Vessel Safety Check Decal.'
If the Arizona side of Lake Mead is more convenient, you can head for Meadview, where the same 11 a.m. time for the world record attempt will be used.
Lake Mohave Events
Visitors will have their choice at two separate locations on Lake Mohave. Participants will gather at 11 a.m. at Katherine Landing on the southern end of the lake near Bullhead City, Arizona, and at Cottonwood Cove, east of Seachlight, Nevada, on the western side of Lake Mohave.
After everyone has put on their lifejackets to help set the world record, representatives from the National Park Service and U.S.C.G. Auxiliary will be on hand to inspect life jackets and provide hands-on information about boating safety and quagga mussels. At Katherine Landing, kids will also have the opportunity to design and color their own water and boating safety T-shirts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you're not familiar with the location of the various marinas, you can download your choice of several maps of the park at this link.
The events at Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) are part of the world-wide campaign, so if you're too far from Lake Mead to participate, you can search for one closer to your home at this link. More information about the ''Ready, Set, Wear It" campaign is available here, and on the event's Facebook page.