Coast Guard urges boaters to stay safe during the 4th of July weekend

1st Coast Guard District News
NEW YORK – In preparation for the Fourth of July weekend, Coast Guard Sector New York reminds boaters to take the proper precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend on the water.

The Coast Guard offers the following guidance for safe recreational boating.

Before leaving port to enjoy evening fireworks, identify the location of any established Coast Guard safety zones and stay well outside zone boundaries.  Safety zones are established to protect boaters from falling debris, which may or may not be burning.

For more information about the safety zones that have been established in the New York Harbor area, including a map, please click HERE.

Ensure the vessel’s navigational lighting and sound signals are working properly.  Pack spare bulbs as a precaution.  Before leaving the dock, provide passengers with an overview of onboard safety equipment and its intended use.

Do not launch or use fireworks on board a vessel.  Fireworks can be mistaken as a sign of distress, needlessly attracting Coast Guard and other rescue resources.

Life jackets save lives.  Drowning is the leading cause of death in boating-related mishaps.  And, most boating fatalities are the result of unexpected falls overboard, either while a vessel is underway or drifting.  Of those who drown, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.  Wearing a life jacket helps ensure a boater stays afloat so they can either self-rescue or be rescued by other boaters in the area.

The Coast Guard recommends that you wear a life jacket at all times when boating.  And, many states require children to wear life jackets at all times while underway.  It is much more difficult to locate access or don a life jacket after an accident or a fall overboard has occurred. Federal and state safe boating laws require that all recreational vessels carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket, size and type to fit, for each person aboard.  In addition, recreational vessels 16-feet and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved throw-able flotation device, such as a life ring.

Boaters and their guests should always wear a life jacket when swimming from a boat.  Each year the Coast Guard responds to several incidents involving unanchored boats drifting away from occupants who were swimming and not wearing a life jacket.  Without the benefit of wearing a life jacket, there is little hope of survival once the boat drifts away.

For more information on life jackets, please click HERE.

An overloaded vessel is a great danger, especially on a crowded waterway.

Pleasure crafts have a rated maximum capacity established by the manufacturer. Many of these vessels have a rating plate attached to the transom, near the helm or cabin.

For more information regarding vessel over load, please click HERE.

All mariners are encouraged to invest in a VHF-FM marine-band radio as their primary means of communication on the water. VHF-FM marine-band radios are far more reliable than cells phones in the marine environment.  VHF-FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress channel, is monitored by the Coast Guard and state marine patrols around the clock.  In addition, distress calls broadcast over VHF-FM Channel 16 will be heard by all mariners in the vicinity. Urgent safety information and weather reports for boaters are also broadcast over marine band radio channels.

Float plans are another resource that can be used to locate overdue or missing boaters. These can be as simple as a note placed under your car’s windshield wiper or conversation with a loved one staying ashore and are actions completed prior to getting underway. Plans should explain the planned destination or route and also what time you are expected to return. These should be left with someone on shore so that in the event you don’t return, that person can notify the proper authorities.

For more information on how to obtain a blank float plan, please click HERE.

All mariners should be aware of the dangers associated with Boating Under the Influence (BUI).  BUI is just as dangerous as drinking and driving on the road.  Alcohol use is a primary contributing factor in 17 percent of all recreational boating fatalities. People are actually more likely to become impaired while on the water as opposed to land.  Stressors in the marine environment, such as motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray, enhance the effects of impairment on the water.

For more information on Boating under the Influence, please click HERE.

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