Get your free boat safety checks before hitting the water

LOS ANGELES – In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be providing free boat safety checks at five southern California locations on Saturday, May 24, 2008 beginning at 8 a.m.

“Memorial weekend traditionally kicks off the boating season. So before hitting the water, the Coast Guard urges boaters to make sure their safety equipment is in order,” said Lt. j.g. Andrew Muñoz spokesman for the Coast Guard in Los Angeles.

Volunteer vessel examiners inspect boats to ensure that required safety equipment is present and in functional condition. The examiners also check for any basic mechanical problems, make sure registration and documentation are current, and offer information on a variety boating safety issues. Examinations can be conducted on any type of watercraft from boats, jet-ski’s, to kayaks.

Lifejackets, fire extinguishers, and distress signals are just some of the items that are required by federal regulations. The Coast Guard also suggests boaters equip themselves with a marine VHF radio, GPS device, and 406 MHz EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).

“We want boaters to be safe, responsible and enjoy their time on the water. It’s our goal to have more boaters take advantage of these free boat safety checks. That’s why we’re working with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to have vessel examiners out at popular boating areas,” said Muñoz.

Aside from being prepared for an emergency, one advantage of getting the free safety check from the Coast Guard Auxiliary is that there aren’t any penalties associated with not passing. Those who do pass will be able to display this year’s vessel exam decal on their boat.

According to Muñoz, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement will be on patrol conducting their own inspections. Unlike the inspections offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, if you fail to pass one conducted on the water by law enforcement you could face fines and be ordered back to the dock.

National Safe Boating Week is May 17-24, 2008. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel examiners will be at the following locations on Saturday, May 24, 2008 beginning at 8 a.m.

* Davies Launch Ramp, Long Beach, Calif.
* Cabrillo Launch Ramp, San Pedro, Calif.
* Newport Dunes Launch Ramp, Newport Harbor, Calif.
* Pyramid Lake
* Castaic Lake

Boaters can find more information about boating safety at the U.S. Coast Guard’s boating safety web site at: http://www.uscgboating.org.

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