Coast Guard issues boating and paddle sport safety advisory

Boston — Following the tragic loss of five paddlers and a father and son on a jet ski in the past two weeks, the Coast Guard is issuing a safety advisory for all weekend boaters, paddlers, sailors and fishers in the Northeast.

With sunny, comfortable temperatures forecasted for the weekend, the Coast Guard is asking all boaters and paddlers, before they leave the shore, to take a moment for a brief safety stand-down.

“We’re asking boaters and paddlers to review their safety procedures and make sure they have the required and recommended safety equipment on board,” said Al Johnson, the recreational boating specialist for the First Coast Guard District. “The important thing is to assess the risk, be realistic about what can and will go wrong on the water and be prepared.”

Additionally, the Coast Guard highly recommends that boaters and paddlers adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location, and who to call if you fail to return as scheduled. If your intentions change, notify the person of your new plan.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and set the example for your passengers or paddling partners.
  • Be aware of and prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and incapacitating effects of cold water.
  • Maintain situational awareness on the water – be aware of boat traffic and activity around your vessel.
  • Boat safe and sober – save the alcohol for when you’ve safely returned.

To date this year in the Northeast, there have been 30 recreational boating and paddling fatalities and, in most cases, wearing a life jacket could’ve made a difference, said Johnson.

“The best thing you can do to ensure your safety on the water is wearing your life jacket,” said Johnson. “Remember, when you need your life jacket, you need it on.”

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