NASBLA Roundtable

Making the Cultural Shift for Life Jackets

  • 1.  Making the Cultural Shift for Life Jackets

    Posted 15 days ago
    Our goal is to make life jacket wear an instinctual behavior; part of the "gear" of boating, a cool thing you wear while boating. How do we make the cultural shift from our current position of most boaters wearing (and purchasing) life jackets just to meet U.S.C.G. and state law requirements? A successful cultural shift has taken place relative to helmet wear while bicycling and skiing. How do we emulate that success relative to life jacket wear?

    Peg Phillips
    National Safe Boating Council

  • 2.  RE: Making the Cultural Shift for Life Jackets

    Posted 14 days ago

    Peg, I like the point you made about the cultural shift of helmet wear while bicycling and skiing.  Being an avid snowboarder myself, I've seen this shift on the slopes over the years to where you rarely see a person without a helmet on.  Take my dad for instance, who has been snowboarding for almost 40 years, and even he switched to wearing a helmet several years ago without even giving it a second thought. Why? Certainly not because it looks cool or because it's cheaper.  It's because it's safer and makes sense.  He's been boating and water skiing for just as long, but does he wear a life jacket while in the boat? NOPE! Why are these two seemingly similar pieces of safety equipment not treated with the same regard? Nobody buys a helmet and then clips it onto their backpack thinking "oh, I'll have time to throw this on right before I crash into a tree", which is the same reason you should WEAR a life jacket while boating and not just have it on board thinking you'll have time to use it only if and when you need it.  Maybe I'll do some field surveying next time I'm on the slopes to try and draw some parallels between the two different recreational activities and the participant's reasons for donning non-required safety equipment. :) 

    Chelsea Hofmeier
    Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism