Coast Guard kicks off safe boating campaign

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and other local units will be on River Street in Savannah Saturday to promote safe boating activities and give a search and rescue demonstration.

A search and rescue demonstration will take place in front of River Street starting at 11 a.m. on the Savannah River. This demonstration will involve Coast Guard Auxiliary boats from the Savannah, Hilton Head, S.C., and Beaufort, S.C., Flotillas, as well as a Coast Guard small boat from Station Tybee, Ga., and helicopter from Air Station Savannah.

Coast Guard personnel will be on hand from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. to provide safe boating tips and information on boating safety courses, and perform free recreational vessel examinations. They will also be available to discuss opportunities to become involved with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or other Coast Guard programs, including the Coast Guard Reserves.

As the summer months approach, the Coast Guard is using this opportunity to educate boaters on how to enjoy water sports safely and responsibly. Boaters can take 10 simple steps to do this:

1. Always wear your life jacket.

2. Avoid mixing alcohol and boating.

3. Check your flares, fire extinguisher and other safety equipment to be certain it is in good condition and up-to-date. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks that can help identify these or any other potential programs. Know your boat and its passengers.

4. Familiarize yourself with an online weather service so it becomes a routine part of your pre-departure planning. Knowing potential conditions before you go makes float planning easier. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Tune your VHF marine radio to 162.4 MHz or log onto the National Weather Service website at: www.nws.noaa.gov.

5. Tell a friend, family member or marina harbor master where you are going and file a float plan. If you change plans, let them know.

6. Purchase an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB. c Register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Registration is mandatory, improves response and reduces false alarms. It can also be completed online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov.

7. Keep update navigational charts on your boat and use them.

8. Register your marine radio and obtain a free digit MMSI number that is assigned to a DSC radio.

9. Shut off your engines when approaching swimmers or divers.

10. Take at least one certified boating safety course.

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