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Wear a life jacket, get a free t-shirt
Ameren Missouri, Missouri State Highway Patrol team up to promote boating safety

LAKE OZARK, Mo. (May 22, 2023) – This Memorial Day weekend and all season long, kids caught wearing their life jackets while on the lake could receive a free t-shirt. The giveaway is part of a partnership between Ameren Missouri and the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s (MSHP) Water Patrol Division to raise awareness about water safety.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming people back to the lake this summer, and we want to make sure everyone has a safe and fun season,” said Captain Mike Petlansky, MSHP water patrol division director. “Wearing a properly fitted life jacket is one of the best ways for children – as well as adults – to enjoy the lake safely.”

Data from the U.S. Coast Guard show that people who fail to wear a life jacket are at increased risk of death during a boating accident. In 2021, the Coast Guard counted 658 fatal boating accidents. Where cause of death was known, 81% of fatal boating accident victims had drowned, and 83% of those drowning victims had not been wearing a life jacket.

“The best way to protect yourself is to wear a life jacket,” said Bryan Vance, supervisor of shoreline management at Ameren. “Giving away t-shirts is a simple, visual way to remind everyone to wear a life jacket any time you are on a dock, in a boat or in the water.”

Boaters of all ages should wear life jackets for any water activities, regardless of their swimming abilities. There are U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jacket styles available for cruising, paddling, fishing and water sports. Today’s life jackets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and ensuring a proper fit is essential. Life jackets that are too big may push up and around your face, which could be dangerous, and life jackets that are too small may not be able to keep your body afloat.

To maximize safety this season, Ameren Missouri and the Missouri State Highway Patrol encourage all boaters to follow the Coast Guard’s recommendations for proper life jacket use for children:

  • Always wear a life jacket while aboard a vessel and near or around water, including boat docks and shorelines.
  • Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure that the life jacket is a proper fit for your child’s size and weight.
  • Tighten all straps so the life jacket is properly fastened.
  • Check the fit by lifting the shoulders of the life jacket. If it hits the top of the child’s ears, it’s too big. Make sure there is no excess room above the openings and that the life jacket does not go over their chin or face.
  • For the best fit, try the life jacket in shallow water, under safe and supervised conditions.
  • Life jackets should never replace adult supervision.

Dock Safety
The return of warmer weather is also the perfect time to have a qualified electrician perform a thorough electrical inspection of the dock and land-based electrical system serving the docks.

“Winters and critters are rough on electrical connections here at the lake,” Vance says. “Catching problems early before they become bigger will keep your family safe, the boat in the water, and the music playing all season long”

Ameren Missouri has the following advice for dock electrical safety:

  • If you feel a shock, swim away from the dock. Keep swimming away and look to get out of the water on the shoreline.
  • Stay out of the water if someone is feeling a shock.
  • Never swim around a dock where breakers or GFCIs are tripping.
  • Never energize or reenergize, engage a breaker or reset a GFCI while someone is swimming near the dock. 

In addition to wearing life jackets on the water, people should practice safety around the shoreline. For Ameren Missouri’s updated report on Lake of the Ozarks water levels, please call 573.365.9205 or visit AmerenMissouri.com/Lake for additional dock safety information as well as hourly Lake of the Ozarks water level information.

About Ameren Missouri
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 135,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.