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Life jackets save lives

During the long, hot days of summer, Iowans often turn to rivers and lakes for some fun ways to cool off.

Heading out on the water in a boat, canoe, kayak or even just an inner tube is a good way to relax. And if common sense and a life jacket are used, it’s generally pretty safe, too.

Using those life jackets is key, though.The United States Coast Guard reports that 84 percent of the people who drown as the result of a boating accident were not wearing life jackets. That’s a sobering statistic.

State law requires life jackets on every boat, and state conservation officers are serious about enforcing that rule. Early this month, more than 300 people were fined for not having life jackets. Most of those people were on the Raccoon River.

Life jackets are just about foolproof. People have to find one that’s the right size, strap it on properly and they’re good to go.

Some might say they don’t like to wear life jackets because they’re uncomfortable or they make a person look funny. But today’s life jackets aren’t the bulky, ugly orange things of years past. And people heading for the water can be assured that their friends and family would rather see them in a life jacket than a casket.

There’s plenty of fun to be had on lakes and rivers through the rest of this summer and even into the fall. Iowans should get out there and enjoy themselves.

Just be sure to take a life jacket along.