Coast Guard Plans to Increase Safety Patrols in Sacramento River Delta

RIO VISTA, Calif.- In light of recent fatalities in the Sacramento River delta due to boating accidents, the Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies plan to step up safety patrols this weekend, and are encouraging boaters to be especially vigilant while recreating on the water. The Coast Guard and partner agencies will be on the lookout for those operating in an unsafe manner, and those who are boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

By following the law, and using common sense practices such as not using alcohol before or during a day on the water, recreational boaters can decrease the likelihood of being involved in, or seriously injured during, a boating accident. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal, and those operators who jeopardize the lives of others can be subject to criminal charges.

Section 655 of the California Harbor & Navigation Code defines boating under the influence as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for recreational vessels, and a BAC of 0.04% or higher for all other vessels. Depending on how many times an individual has been convicted of boating under the influence, and depending on the severity of any incidents or accidents that may arise as a result of a person boating under the influence, charges range from misdemeanors to felonies and can include jail time and civil penalties.

“Environmental factors while on the water can contribute to the effects of alcohol, increasing fatigue and impairing judgment much quicker than normal,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Kevin Neff, of District 11 Public Affairs. “The best way to avoid trouble from an alcohol related incident while boating is just not to drink in the first place.”

The Coast Guard also reminds boaters to keep all safety equipment in working order, including flares, life rings, and personal floatation devices. Though the lawful requirement is that recreational boaters keep lifejackets onboard for all passengers, the Coast Guard strongly encourages those on the water to wear a PFD at all times.

“A lifejacket left behind in your boat will not do you much good if you end up in the water and are injured,” says Commander Russ Davidson, Chief of the Response Department for Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “It is important to prepare for an emergency by wearing your lifejacket at all times.”

Lifejackets must be Coast Guard-approved, and properly fitted. Children 11 years and younger must wear a personal flotation device at all times while on a vessel less than 26-feet.

Boaters should also heighten their awareness of other vessel traffic during the heavy recreational boating season. There are an average of seven marine events per weekend in the Delta region alone, resulting in hundreds of additional boats operating in those waterways. The Coast Guard encourages boaters to be aware of smaller boats and personal watercraft, and to always operate at a safe speed.

To learn more about boating safety, and to see all required and recommended safety equipment, visit:

http://www.uscgboating.org/ or http://www.boatus.org/onlinecourse/statelaws/California.html#PFD

To learn more about a lifejacket loan program for children, visit:

http://www.boatus.com/ or http://www.wearitcalifornia.com/

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