Hispanic Communications Network / La Red Hispana and the Water Sports Foundation (WSF) have announced that for the second consecutive year, the launch of their partnership via a national multimedia campaign in the United States and Puerto Rico to help reduce preventable water sports accidents among Latinos and Latinas, and inspire a culture of boating safety among the Spanish-speaking public of all ages.
Using radio public service announcements (PSAs) via HCN’s La Red Hispana national radio affiliate network and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the campaign seeks to emphasize the importance of using the life jackets while creating awareness about the risks of alcohol use during water sports activities and the importance of frequent equipment inspection.
“Life jackets still have a stigma of resistance attached to them, and that is why this campaign has a clear and simple message: Vests save lives. But for this it is necessary to use them at all times and in the appropriate manner,” said Alison Rodden, CEO of Hispanic Communications Network.
In 2016, the sports world was shocked by the unfortunate demise of young Cuban baseball promise Jose Fernandez who died during a nighttime accident at sea when his boat crashed at more than 65 mph. Neither he nor any of his companions wore life jackets and had consumed alcohol.
Despite high-profile accidents, surveys show many people still resist the use of the life jackets, even though new advances make them less restrictive. Among Latinos the situation is more serious, because a considerable percentage does not know how to swim. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate more than 60% of Latino children and 70% of African-American children do not know how to swim.
“Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of deaths in water sports activities share the same element of risk: The victims did not wear a life jacket when they fell into the water due to some unforeseen circumstance. We must do everything possible because the public has the information to try and avoid injuries or fatal outcomes,” said Jim Emmons of WSF.
The popularization of boating, especially paddle-boarding, has resulted in recent years in an increase in accidents, which in turn has increased the need for water sport public awareness, and for the public to take courses about safety in boats, canoes and all types of watercraft. “Boating Safety education needs to be offered at little or no cost to encourage participation by the entire family,” said Henry Cespedes, spokesperson for the campaign, educator and member of the USCG Auxiliary.
Over the course of two weeks, the new campaign of HCN/La Red Hispana and WSF will make informational resources available to the Latino community to help prevent water recreation from becoming a calamity.