NASHVILLE, Tn (TWRA) - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will launch the second year of its "Wear It Tennessee!" campaign to increase life jacket wear while boating.
Boaters on central Tennessee waterways such as Percy Priest Lake, Cheatham Lake, and Old Hickory Lake will be able to see modern inflatable life jackets demonstrated throughout the summer as part of the second year of "Wear It Tennessee!"
"Wear It Tennessee!" is collaboration between the TWRA Boating Division, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Safe Boating Council, and BoatU.S. The effort is a concentrated public outreach and marketing campaign designed to encourage adult boaters to wear life jackets. Twenty people died in recreational boating accidents in Tennessee during 2008. Tennessee ranks among the top 10 states in the nation for the number of annual boating accidents. Life jacket wear is considered the best way to prevent recreational boating deaths.
"Last year we found that boaters didn't know that the compact inflatable life jackets we wore were indeed life jackets," said Betsy Woods, TWRA boating education coordinator. "We began to inflate them or jump in the water, and people were amazed. So this year we plan to do even more demonstrations, to let people see how comfortable and compact life jackets can be."
The second year of "Wear It Tennessee!" kicked off during National Safe Boating Week and continues throughout the summer. A full range of marketing strategies and tools, including radio, television, in-theater, outdoor, and internet advertising, will be used.
A customized Yamaha AR-230, donated by the company and manned by trained staff, will cruise Percy Priest and Old Hickory lakes throughout the summer. Appearances by the "Wear It!" boat in other regions will be announced at a later date.
The "Wear It!" crew will give away 800 inflatable life jackets to boaters who pledge to wear them at all times while boating. Marina events, radio station remotes, literature, and signage will help carry the message. There is a video contest for Tennesseans ages 13 to 20 years showing in 25 seconds or less, how to convince adults to wear a life jacket at all times while boating. In addition, for the first time, the campaign will be on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
"We're looking to make a substantial difference in life jacket wear rates," said Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. "We call on all recreational boaters to be responsible for their safety and the safety of their passengers. "Wear It, Tennessee!'" For more information on the Tennessee initiative, visit www.WearItTennessee.com or call (615) 781-6601.