Proposal: children under age of 13 to wear life jackets on boats
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to require those under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket when on a boat at all times.
Right now, Wisconsin is one of only a couple states in the United States that doesn’t require children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket. This proposal would change that.
According to State Representative Dana Wachs, federal law says children under the age of thirteen must wear a life jacket when on federal waters, but in the state of Wisconsin, that’s not the case.
“What this law does is it really brings Wisconsin law up to the Federal standards in terms of kids,”
State Representative Dana Wachs told WEAU. “It makes a lot of sense to do that because the Federal Waters
near us all require this; we want Wisconsin lakes and waters to do the same.”
Wachs says almost 75% of those killed in boating accidents are drowning victims.
“Of the people that drown, around 84% of those are not wearing life vests,” Wachs said. “It’s a simple
act to put a life vest on, especially for kids.”
While some are for children having to always wear life jackets, some think it’s on the parents to make a judgement call.
“Each situation is different and I would prefer that you have the parent make the decision; that’s the right
decision for the individual in that circumstance,” Mike Emberson, a co-owner of Zacho Sports Center, told WEAU.
Some parents around the area think the proposal is a must.
"Just for safety precautions for us and also for them,” Dana Granger-Daniel, who resides on Lake Wissota explained.
“There have been a multitude of accidents on this lake alone and to reduce that chance of that happening again.”
Drowning is the number one reason for boating deaths in Wisconsin according to Wachs and a simple fix could avoid that problem.
“I think it’s a good common sense bill and it protects our children and frankly, everyone should have a life vest
on when they’re in operation of a boat.”
According to the Boat U.S. Foundation, in the states that have no children’s life jacket law in place, a U.S. Coast Guard
interim rule requires children under 13 on moving boats to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Wachs says he hopes
the proposal gets a hearing in the near future to for it to become law.