Coast Guard urges Boaters to think safety during Harborfest weekend

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads encourages boaters to think safety during the Harborfest weekend.

Boaters can expect an increased presence from the Coast Guard who will be paying particular attention to Recreational Boating Safety this weekend.

This year during the Harborfest weekend, and throughout the boating season, remember to practice safe and responsible boating. Always wear a life jacket and be alert and aware while on the water. Safe boating saves lives, so remember to “Boat Smart. Boat Safe. WEAR IT!”

Also, boating under the influence, or boating while intoxicated, is just as deadly as drinking and driving. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

Here are some other tips to help boaters have a safe and pleasant summer on the water:

? Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are on board 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.

? Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly and you should keep a watchful eye on the forecasted conditions.

? Have nautical charts of the area you are boating in, a global positioning device and a reliable means of communication on board your vessel. VHF-radio is the best method of communications while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.

? Wear your life jacket! Eighty-five 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.

For further boating safety information, check online at one of the following:

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary http://www.cgaux.org/

Vessel Safety Checks http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/

Coast Guard Boating Safety page http://www.uscgboating.org/

National Safe Boating Council http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/

U.S. Power Squadrons http://www.usps.org/

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