AZGFD stresses importance of wearing life jackets, practicing safe, sober boating | Local News

As temperatures continue to rise and as the school year ends, more people are expected to visit Arizona’s rivers and lakes, likely increasing the risk of water-related accidents. The Arizona Game and Fish Service (AZGFD) urges all on-water reenactors to wear life jackets, comply with safety regulations and laws, and designate a sober pilot.

So far in 2023, three people have died while boating in Arizona. According to AZGFD, in 2022, boating accidents will claim 13 lives, injure another 60, and generate $1 million in damages.

“Life jackets literally do the job. They save lives when you need them,” said Danny Rodriguez, Watercraft Law Enforcement Program Coordinator. “But it can only save lives if it is worn, and often it is too late to put it on once you realize you need it.”

Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that 86% of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing life jackets when the cause of death was known. AZGFD reiterates the importance of wearing life jackets and focusing on safe boating as another busy boating season begins.

To promote lifejacket use and kick off National Safe Boat Week May 20-26, AZGFD and partner agencies will host several lifejacket exchange events across the state. If you have an old, worn-out life jacket or an incorrectly sized life jacket, you can exchange it for a new one free of charge while supplies last.

“Like anything else, life jackets wear out over time. Replacement events like this are a great way for Arizona boaters and rowers to not only fit properly, but also be in good condition and have the gear they need. It’s a great way to make sure you have life jackets ready to go,” said Josh Hoffman, Boat Safety Education Coordinator.

“Before going out on the water, it is important for boaters to ensure that their life jackets are in good condition, properly sized and fit for their passengers.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Service life jacket exchange program will begin on Saturday, May 20th for the 15th time.

State law requires all passengers under the age of 12 to wear a life jacket while on the boat, and each passenger on board must have a properly fitting US Coast Guard approved life jacket . Life’s jacket requirements also apply to his paddle craft, including kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.

The life jacket exchange meeting will be held at the following place and date.

Saturday, May 20th:

8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

  • Bartlett Lake (Jojoba Lamp)
  • Canyon Lake (main ramp)
  • Lake Pleasant (10-lane ramp)
  • Lake Saguaro (main ramp) also May 21st if additional life jackets are still available

6am to 11am

9am to 11am

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

  • Eagle Motorsports, 2106 AZ-Hwy 95, Bullhead City, also 3rd Saturday of each month through August

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 3rd:

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Friday, June 9th:

9am to 11am

Saturday, June 10th:


Note: Type I and Type II life jackets are not accepted. Only ski vest type life jackets are eligible for exchange.

Since 2016, AZGFD has replaced over 7,000 life jackets statewide.

For more information about boating in Arizona, or to sign up for a free safety course, visit:

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