JSI RESOURCES: Journal article

Risk factors associated with life jacket wear among adult canoeists and kayakers in the United States, 1999-2017

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Drowning is the most common cause of death in recreational boating. Life jackets prevent drowning, yet adult wear rates remain relatively low on most types of boats. Canoes and kayaks are among the least used boat types, yet maintain the third and first highest annual boating-related drowning rates in 2012, respectively. This 1999-2017 study collected data from 124 study sites across the US. Life jacket wear was calculated for 13 dichotomized risky and non-risky variables, using Chi-square tests. A count variable based on a number of risks was created, and Cochran-Armitage trend tests examined linearity in life jacket use. Three illustrative variables for each boat type were represented in tree diagrams. Kayakers had higher wear rates than canoeists among all variables observed. For both boats, the majority of risky conditions had higher life jacket wear rates than their non-risky alternatives. As the number of risks increased, the life jacket wear rate increased. Boaters seemingly conduct a mental assessment of risk to determine whether to wear a life jacket.

Authors: Maile T. Phillips, Natalie Spitzer, Wendy Chow, and Thomas W. Mangione

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