Five easy ways to stay safe on the water

NEW YORK – Coast Guard surface and air crews searched the Great Peconic Bay area of Long Island, N.Y., throughout the night for a possible missing kite surfer.  The search was suspended this morning after Coast Guard released photos of the recovered gear were shown on the local news and the owner called to say he was safe.

“In Long Island Sound we often encounter abandoned and adrift boats,” said Cmdr. Eric Doucette, Chief of Response at Sector Long Island Sound, Conn. “While this case ended well for the owner, sometimes they can end tragically.  If there is even a chance a person is in the water, we begin search and rescue efforts; however by following a few guidelines we can drastically increase our efforts to get to you in time.”

Here are five easy ways to stay safe on the water:

1. Wear a lifejacket: properly wearing a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket is the single easiest way to improve your survival chances after an accident.  This goes for any form of water sports, from kayaking to sailing.

2. File a float plan: filing this simply consists of telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return, so in the event you don’t come back, rescuers have a better idea of where to look for you.

3. Mark your gear: this is often overlooked by new boaters, but if you use indelible ink to put down an address and phone number on paddles, sails, canoe and kayak hulls, we can call you the minute we find the gear to see if your items are lost or if you are actually in trouble.

4. Bring safety equipment with you:  bringing flares, a sound-producing device, signaling mirror, marine band radio or cell phone can all help you get our attention and get to you as fast as possible.  It’s not hard to imagine that when winds pick up, it may not be easy to hear your voice, and that’s when the flares or sound-producing device can help immensely.

5. Take a boating safety course:  Often boaters and paddle sport enthusiasts get excited to get their new vessel on the water before they’ve learned how to properly use it and avoid dangerous situations.  Free boating classes are provided by the Coast Guard Auxiliary; for a calendar of events in your area, go to: http://cgaux.org.

A great safe boating website is: http://www.uscgboating.org/.

Don’t forget, National Safe Boating Week is May 21 – 27. http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/.

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