Coast Guard urges safety and caution for boaters

The Coast Guard medically evacuated a 57-year-old male six miles south of Hyannis, Mass., Sept. 22, 2015. Shortly after 10 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England received a radio transmission from sailing vessel Dark & Stormy III stating that one of their crew members had been struck in the head with the vessel's boom and they were requesting assistance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

PHILADELPHIA – In an effort to prevent tragedies over the course of the summer, the Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police would like to remind boaters, jet skiers, canoeists and kayakers alike of a few rules and guidelines which should help prevent any incident and increase survivability if one takes place.

As partners on the water, the NJSP and Coast Guard coordinate to cover more distance effectively and to respond to those in need as fast as possible.  Through our years of experience and partnership, we recommend the following to keep safer while on the water:

•   Wear your life jacket. Often the difference between life and death is wearing a life jacket rather than fumbling around for it in an emegency. 84% of fatal drowning victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. With an expanded variety of comfortable options available, there’s no good reason to be without one.

•   Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in boater deaths. Drunk boating is drunk driving. Have a designated vessel operator when friends and family are having a few adult beverages while boating.

•   Understand what you’re operating. Whether it’s a motor boat, canoe, kayak, jet ski or paddleboard, it’s imperative that you are familiar with its controls and understand its functions.  Not knowing the functions of your vessel or how to safely operate it can put you at risk, as well as those around you. Always operate under control.

•   Know the tides. Know the schedule of the tides before you go out on your boat, or you could end up stranded.  As the tide goes out, boaters and jet skiers can become stranded and grounded in mud flats.

•   Get a free vessel safety check annually.  Both the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and the New Jersey State Police offer free boating safety checks.  Visit www.SafetySeal.net to schedule an appointment.  A vessel safety check ensures a boat and its equipment comply with federal, state and local safety requirements. It’s your opportunity to get the facts and your questions answered, typically in less than an hour.

•   Personal safety checklist. Take a look at the New Jersey State Police’s “Did You Remember” checklist at http://ift.tt/29rQNdj

•   Take a boating safety course. What you don’t know can cost you! 80% of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Most on-water accidents are preventable. Visit http://ift.tt/1TH0RCn to search affordable ($25-$50 on average) courses of all levels taught year-round by local experienced expert instructors.

•   Purchase a VHF radio with Digital Selective Calling and an EPIRB. Register both. A cell phone connects you only to one party. A VHF radio is better in an emergency because you can simultaneously alert the Coast Guard and surrounding boats. When an EPIRB is properly registered, the Coast Guard will be able to use the registration information to immediately take action. If the EPIRB is unregistered, a distress alert may take up to two hours longer to reach the Coast Guard over the international satellite system.

•   File a float plan. Visit http://ift.tt/1ShAOi2 for everything you need to know about filing a float plan. A float plan can be as simple as telling friends and family where you going, and when you plan to return.

•   Get Familiar with the new Coast Guard Mobile App. Your safe boating needs in one FREE easy app! Find the latest safety regulations. Request a vessel safety check. File a float plan. Request emergency assistance. Download it for free: www.uscg.mil/mobile.

•   For more information on the New Jersey State Police Marine-Services – visit:http://ift.tt/29rQO12

“There are no lane markings, traffic signals, or warning signs out on the water, which can sometimes lull people into a false sense of security,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Mottley, Deputy Superintendent of Homeland Security.  “With proper preparation, the right equipment, and safe operation, boating on New Jersey’s many waterways is a great way to spend time with your family and loved ones.”

“Your safety on the water is of paramount importance to us; take the time to understand the limitations of your equipment and the environment you are operating in,” said Coast Guard Capt. Benjamin Cooper, commander of Sector Delaware Bay.  “These simple precautions can make the difference between life and death.”

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