MAINE - Nothing tastes better than a cool treat on a hot summer day, especially when it's a reward for good behavior. That's the theory behind the boating safety partnership program sponsored by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Department of Marine Resources and Maine McDonald's restaurants. Here's how it works: children 12 and under seen wearing a life jacket while boating on Maine's inland and coastal waterways will be rewarded with a "Flotation Citation" good for a free dessert at all Maine McDonald's and participating Eastern New Hampshire McDonald's restaurants.
Now in its sixth year, the program has received numerous accolades over the years, including the National Chapman Safety Award given annually by the United States Power Squadrons and Motor Boating Magazine.
"We are very glad to be a part of this successful program especially because it gives our patrol officers another way to give kids positive reinforcement," said Colonel Joseph Fessenden, Department of Marine Resources.
"We hope the 'Flotation Citations' serve as a fun reward for doing the right thing," said Steve Goble, President of the Maine McDonald's Cooperative and owner of McDonald's restaurants in Freeport, North Windham and Westbrook. "By partnering with Maine's Game Wardens and Marine Patrol Officers on this program, we hope to help educate Maine children on the importance of wearing a life jacket. It's one of the simplest steps to take toward safe boating."
Maine law requires that people boating must have a Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for every person on board. Children 10 years or younger must wear a life jacket while on Maine waters in any watercraft. Anyone being towed behind a boat on skis or knee-boards also must wear life jackets or belts.
"Life jackets save lives, so we want to encourage children to wear their life jackets whenever they are out on the water," said Colonel Timothy Peabody of the Maine Warden Service, "These 'Flotation Citations' are an ideal way of encouraging children to wear their life jackets."
Maine's Game Wardens and Marine Patrol Officers have been provided with 9,000 McDonald's certificates. Both organizations will be out in force this summer doing boat safety checks and issuing "Flotation Citations" to youngsters proudly wearing their life jackets.
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