PHOENIX — In conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department would like to remind boaters and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders of the importance of life jackets and helmets for kids.
State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board a boat or watercraft. And when it comes to OHVs, operators and passengers under 18 must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-safety rated helmet designed for motorized vehicle use.
“When you’re gearing up to take your kids out to enjoy Arizona’s outdoor recreation, ensure that everyone has the appropriate safety gear,” said Josh Hurst, off-highway vehicle law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “A properly fitting helmet or life jacket is the most important piece of equipment that you and your children can wear when hitting OHV trails or going out on a boat.”
The best time to check the size and fit of safety gear is before you leave the house. Make sure that everyone in the family, especially children, has the necessary and appropriate safety equipment.
To ensure your child has a properly fitting helmet for riding on or operating an OHV, refer to the helmet manufacturer’s instructions and information. Good fit is essential for ensuring the best protection, and getting advised by a professional is helpful when determining the best option and fit for a child. For more information regarding general helmet information and frequently asked helmet questions, visit the Snell Memorial Foundation website at www.smf.org.
Before heading out to the lake, make sure that life jackets fit snug. Have a child lift his or her arms overhead while you lift up on the life jacket by the shoulder straps; if the jacket rides up above the ear lobes, it’s too big. If you get out to the lake and realize you’ve left a jacket at home, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has installed life jacket loaner stations near the boat ramps at lakes Pleasant, Havasu, Saguaro and Mohave.
Child Passenger Safety Week, which takes place Sept. 17-23, focuses on car safety, but it’s important to remember that safety comes first no matter the type of vehicle or watercraft. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is promoting the week in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and information about events taking place in the state can be found online.