Coast Guard emphasizes boating safety year-round

SAN DIEGO — The Coast Guard urges boaters to make safety a priority this holiday weekend, as summer draws to a close on Labor Day.

Being safe on the water is paramount.

Significant actions mariners can take to be safe on the water are to have the proper safety equipment on board, be aware of the dangers of boating under the influence, and monitor the approaching weather.

Members of the boating public must remember to always wear a life jacket, file a float plan with a friend or family member and have a working VHF-FM radio and electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) on board. Doing these simple tasks could save your life or the life of your passengers.

Along with decreasing the operator’s ability to make good judgments, boating under the influence negatively affects the ability of the operator to respond in the case of an emergency. The effects of the sun, wind, waves and a boat’s motion on the water, can all add to an operator’s impairment. Boaters found to be under the influence can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

The Coast Guard would also like to remind boaters that we are still within the storm season and hurricanes and severe weather is possible all along coastal waters. Please be aware and prepared. The Coast Guard’s Storm Center contains information and planning tips for boaters. http://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about, and can become hazards to navigation once the storm has passed. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org. For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter.

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