ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard is reminding all mariners to be safe on the water during the Fourth of July weekend.
During the holiday, increased traffic on the water is expected. Coast Guard stations around the country will be on patrol to ensure safety and security on the water, but the Coast Guard reminds boaters that safety starts at the dock.
“As always, ensure you have your proper safety equipment before heading out on the water to enjoy this Fourth of July weekend,” said Capt. Gregory Case, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “In addition to life jackets, flares and other signaling devices, we want to remind boaters of our newest safety resource, the Coast Guard app, which can assist in filing your float plan, checking weather and provide boaters with vital information to stay safe this weekend.”
The Coast Guard wants boaters to remember these tips before leaving the dock:
- Download the Coast Guard Mobile app. The app helps boaters request a vessel safety check, call the Coast Guard or 911 in an emergency situation, as well as shows required safety equipment mariners will need aboard their vessel.
- Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details your destination and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.
- Obtain a free, no-fault vessel safety check, from your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, before heading out on the water. The safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.
- Do not drink and boat. According to the 2014 recreational boating statistics, alcohol use was a contributing factor in 30 accidents, resulting in 12 deaths and 29 injuries statewide.
- Do not use flares as fireworks. Flares are a recognized sign of distress.
- Have working communication equipment aboard your vessel. A VHF-FM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and battery life.
- Don’t allow friends and family members to bow-ride. Bow-riding refers to the unsafe practice of passengers remaining on the bow of a recreational vessel while it is making way.
- Make certain to check the local weather. Weather can change rapidly, so mariners planning on making way should keep a watchful eye on the forecast conditions.
- Wear your life jacket! In 2014, 84 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.
Click any of the links below for further boating safety information.