Coast Guard recommends free vessel safety checks for boaters

unnamedCLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard is reminding boaters to get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary before going out onto the water this Memorial Day weekend.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is an all-volunteer force that augments the U.S. Coast Guard by promoting recreational boating safety through vessel safety checks and boating education courses.

“Being a safe boater goes beyond simply having the required safety equipment onboard your vessel to show federal, state, and local law enforcement that you are in compliance with boating safety laws,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland. “By passing a vessel safety check and getting your annual decal, you provide your passengers and law enforcement with a visual cue that you are a safe boater.”

A Vessel Safety Check is a free safety inspection of a recreational boat conducted by a trained and certified U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadron Vessel Examiner.

The Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft users and paddlers, take advantage of these free offers. Boaters who have undergone a vessel safety check recently and earned a decal, will often find boardings of their vessels to be much faster.

No citations are issued for safety violations discovered during a vessel safety check.

“A boating safety course will teach you not only how to properly navigate on the lakes, but what to do in emergencies,” Baron said. “Whether engaged in fishing, water skiing, paddling a canoe or kayak, or simply just cruising the waterways, this fantastic freedom to escape the bounds of land and escape to the water comes with a responsibility to do so safely.”

According to the 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics, where instruction was known in the 626 deaths across the nation, 220 boat operators had not taken a safety class.

Boaters can go to http://cgaux.org/vsc/ to schedule vessel safety checks or http://ift.tt/1gjrufoto find available boating courses nearby.The Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, other qualified volunteer organizations and state agencies sponsor a variety of boating safety courses.

Vessel safety checks can also be requested through the new U.S. Coast Guard smartphone App, available to download on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Additionally, the Appincludes state boating information and a safety equipment checklist as part of the 10 most often requested tools and services requested by boaters.

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