Boating season in full swing as Coast Guard concludes busy National Safe Boating Week

7th Coast Guard District News
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Coast Guard units concluded a busy National Safe Boating Week and Memorial Day weekend along the western coast of Florida.

During National Safe Boating Week and Memorial Day weekend, Coast Guard and numerous local law enforcement crews patrolled, conducted safety checks and watched for people boating while intoxicated or operating vessels in an unsafe manner.

Coast Guard statistics for units along the West coast of Florida from May 23-May 30:

  • Total search and rescue cases conducted – 23
  • Total number of persons detained under suspicion of boating while intoxicated – 3
  • National Response Center notifications reporting security zone violations, spills, sheens, etc. – 10

With the onset of warmer weather and the beginning of the summer boating season, boaters are reminded of seven crucial life saving practices.

  1. Always Wear a Lifejacket – Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
  2. Invest in an EPIRB – An Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Locator Beacon can help take the search out of search and rescue.
  3. Invest in a VHF Radio – Boaters are reminded that cell phones only work so far offshore. A VHF radio can serve as a dependable means of communication during an emergency at sea.
  4. Don’t Drink and Boat – Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  5. Take a Boating Safety Course – Approximately 76 percent of all fatal accidents occurred on a vessel with an operator who had no formal boating safety instruction.
  6. Get a Vessel Safety Inspection – Even if you pay careful attention to safety, dangerous mechanical problems can crop up on the best-maintained boats. That’s why the Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters take advantage of the free Vessel Safety Check program every year.
  7. File a Float Plan – A float plan is simply letting a reliable loved one or friend know where you are going, when you are going to be back and what kind of vessel you have. That person can call the Coast Guard if you don’t return on time and save critical minutes during a search and rescue operation.

“Taking simple precautions before going out on the water can mean the difference between a fun, safe day on the water and ending up in a life or death situation,” said Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Always check the weather, wear your lifejackets, know your boating limits, file a float plan with a friend or family member and bring emergency signaling devices with you out on the water.”

Boaters should remember that they are in command and that they may save more than their life by practicing safe boating. They may save the life of someone they love.

For more information, visit www.uscgboating.org.

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