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Boaters Reminded ‘Nobody’s Waterproof,’ Safety Encouraged
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas had 47 boating fatalities in 2006, surpassing 40 for the first time since 2002, when the state led the nation with 61. Most of those tragedies were preventable, since on average 85 percent of boating fatality drowning victims who drowned were not wearing a life jacket when recovered.
With those sobering facts in mind, and the spring/summer boating season gearing up, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners are launching a fresh public education and water safety initiative. The new approach enlists country music star Kevin Fowler, who’s come on board to help connect with a key target audience.
“Nobody’s Waterproof™” is a fun, interactive social marketing campaign targeting 18-to-34-year-old boaters, especially young men, whom statistics show are most at risk. It is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The campaign was developed in 2006 by LCRA and EnviroMedia Social Marketing, Inc. and has won state, regional and national awards. This year, through an agreement with LCRA, TPWD is working to expand the initiative outside the Colorado River watershed to other Texas metropolitan areas.
“Texas Parks and Wildlife sees this as a chance to really take the message to the people on the water, with fun activities and educational items that will continue to remind boaters and swimmers that “Nobody’s Waterproof — Play it Safe,” said Brandi Bradford, TPWD boater education coordinator. “We will be taking a wonderful new education program on Texas waters this summer — including a great boat with a fun, engaging outreach team, who will be handing out safety items and information at some of the most well known locations around the state. Look for us on the water and shoreline at a lake, river, or bay near you!”
“LCRA is excited to be working with Texas Parks and Wildlife to take the Nobody’s Waterproof campaign statewide in 2007,” said Jennifer Scharlach, LCRA boating and water safety coordinator. “Last year, we found that the campaign really works in getting people’s attention. The campaign’s fun games, one-on-one conversations and nonjudgmental approach appeal to men ages 18 to 34, who are at the greatest risk of drowning. People who experienced the campaign last year told us that Nobody’s Waterproof really did raise their awareness of water safety and change their behaviors.”
The “Nobody’s Waterproof” party boat, donated to TPWD by the Britteny Sage Lindt Fund, will be out for special events on Lake Texoma near Denton, Lake Lewisville near Dallas, Clear Lake and Lake Conroe near Houston, Canyon Lake and Guadalupe River near San Antonio, and Lake Travis near Austin. (By Memorial Day weekend, the “Nobody’s Waterproof” Web site will have event details.) Some events will feature shoreline activities co-hosted by partners, including LCRA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Texas Water Safety Coalition and others. LCRA will use a dual-engine, jet-drive boat on loan from Yamaha Motor Corporation for campaign events at lakes Travis and LBJ.
Nobody’s Waterproof outreach events will emphasize these safety messages:
- Always wear a life jacket in the water and on a boat.
- Be responsible if you drink and designate a sober boat operator.
- Always swim with a friend and ask friends and family to watch each other.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated — especially if you are also drinking alcohol.
- Follow boating and water safety rules and obey signs, markers and buoys.
- Have a VHF-FM marine radio or cell phone, GPS or map, proper safety equipment, and appropriate clothing on board or with you on the water.
- Know where you are on the water or shoreline.
- Take a boater education course, either online or in person.
“If boaters remember nothing else while they’re playing on Texas waters this summer, we hope they’ll remember “Nobody’s Waterproof — Play it Safe!” Bradford said. “Wear a lifejacket — they even come in smaller, inflatable models that won’t ruin your tan or be hot and uncomfortable. If you’re going to drink, do so responsibly and designate a driver for your boat and the ride home.
“Boat with class boating safety courses are available online and in person through the TPWD Web site. Pay attention to your party. Keep an eye on family and friends while on the water or enjoying the shoreline, and make sure everyone gets home safely.”
In keeping with the “Nobody’s Waterproof” theme targeting the younger, fun crowd, country rocker Kevin Fowler has come on board as a celebrity spokesperson for the expanding statewide initiative. An avid hunter, angler and outdoorsman born in Amarillo, Fowler was “fed a steady diet of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and all the outlaws of country music.” Known for songs about rowdy good times, Fowler is encouraging his fans via radio Public Service Announcements and other venues to come home safe from a day on the water.
“Like lots of 100 percent Texans, I love having a good time on the water!” Fowler says in the radio PSA. “But remember, ‘Nobody’s Waterproof.’ Play it safe, wear a life jacket and designate a driver for the boat and for a safe ride home. Follow these tips and there’ll be a lot more days for you to play in this great state of Texas.”
In addition to the campaign, TPWD game wardens are preparing to enforce boating laws and provide proactive safety guidance, working with lake rangers, sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, regional water safety coalitions, and many other local boating enforcement agencies and public interest groups.
TPWD and local partners will also be hosting news media announcements and opportunities for news crews to ride with game wardens and local officers on patrol at high-profile lakes near major metropolitan areas. These include events on May 19 on Lake Lewisville, May 24 on Canyon Lake and May 25 on Clear Lake. News ride-alongs and boating safety interviews with game wardens may also be coordinated at other times at statewide water bodies upon request with advance planning.
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