LAKE OZARK, Mo. — Wearing a life jacket has an extra benefit for kids this summer: Ameren Missouri will be offering free T-shirts to children under age 7 seen wearing life jackets by the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s (MSHP) water patrol division at Lake of the Ozarks. The two organizations have once again partnered to promote water safety, which is especially important on high-traffic weekends. 

“Tens of thousands of boats will be on the lake, and we want everyone to have a safe and memorable holiday,” said Capt. Matt Walz, MSHP water patrol division director. “In Missouri, children under the age of 7 are required to wear a life jacket while boating, but we encourage all boaters, regardless of age, to wear – not just carry – a life jacket. Bottom line is life jackets save lives.” 

Putting on a life jacket before boarding a boat should be treated as an essential safety precaution, just like wearing a seatbelt when in a car. 

“Making a habit of always wearing a life jacket is such a simple action, but it could save someone’s life," said Bryan Vance, supervisor of shoreline management for Ameren Missouri. “The T-shirts we are giving to children are a nice reward for being safe and a fun reminder to always wear your life jacket whenever you are on the lake.”

Whether you’re spending the Fourth of July weekend at Lake of the Ozarks or another one of Missouri’s beautiful lakes and rivers, it’s important to keep life jacket safety in mind. Children often wear life jackets that are too big. If a child's life jacket is not fitted or tightened properly, it may not support their head above water. 

The Coast Guard provides tips on how to properly fit a life jacket for your child: 

  • Choose a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is right for the child's weight.
  • Tighten all straps until snug. 
  • 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.
  • Always wear a life jacket while aboard a vessel and near or around water, including boat docks and shorelines.
  • Life jackets should never replace adult supervision.

Adults should also wear life jackets when boating, skiing, tubing and riding jet skis to set a good example for children, regardless of their own swimming abilities. There are many styles of life jackets that provide a comfortable fit, but it’s important to remember that the primary function of a life jacket is to be a life preserver tool. 

For Ameren Missouri's updated report on Lake of the Ozarks water levels, please call 1.573.365.9205 or visit AmerenMissouri.com/Lake for hourly Lake of the Ozarks water-level information

Editor's note: On-the-water b-roll of kids in life jackets is available here.

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 132,000 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.  

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