PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary are celebrating safe boating this week in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. Whatever way you play on the water — whether it’s with a kayak, canoe, jet ski, powerboat, sailboat, or other craft — make safety your top priority! We’re determined to arrive at the day when every boater is fully prepared before going out!
1. Wear your life jacket. Often, the difference between life and death is wearing a life jacket rather than fumbling around for it when you need it. 84% of fatal drowning victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. With an expanded variety of comfortable options available, there’s no good reason to be without one.
2. Get a free vessel safety check annually. Visit www.SafetySeal.net to schedule an appointment. A vessel safety check ensures a boat and its equipment comply with federal, state and local safety requirements. It’s your opportunity to get the facts and your questions answered, typically in less than an hour.
3. Take a boating safety course. What you don’t know can cost you! 80% of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Most on-water accidents are preventable. Visit http://ift.tt/1TH0RCn to search affordable ($25-$50 on average) courses of all levels taught year-round by local experienced expert instructors.
4. Boat sober. Never boat under the influence. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in boater deaths. Drunk boating is drunk driving. Have a designated vessel operator when friends and family are having a few adult beverages while boating.
5. Purchase a VHF radio with Digital Selective Calling and an EPIRB. Register both. A cell phone connects you to one party only. A VHF radio is better in an emergency because you can simultaneously alert the Coast Guard and surrounding boats. When an EPIRB is properly registered, the Coast Guard will be able to use the registration information to immediately take action. If the EPIRB is unregistered, a distress alert may take up to two hours longer to reach the Coast Guard over the international satellite system.
6. File a float plan. Visit http://ift.tt/1ShAOi2 for everything you need to know about filing a float plan. A float plan can be as simple as telling friends and family where you going, and when you plan to return.
7. If you see something, say something. Keep an eye out. Weather conditions change. If you see something that may be unsafe, call it out. Encourage your passengers to do the same. Speak up for everyone’s safety.
8. Get Familiar with the new Coast Guard Mobile App. Your safe boating needs in one FREE easy app! Find the latest safety regulations. Request a vessel safety check. File a float plan. Request emergency assistance. Download it for free:www.uscg.mil/mobile .