CLEVELAND — Saturday is the kick off of National Safe Boating Week, an annual campaign sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council, endorsed by the U.S. Coast Guard and promoted by multiple state and local agencies throughout the U.S. which promotes safe and responsible boating and runs from May 16-22, 2015.
In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, the 9th Coast Guard District is urging all Great Lakes boaters to not only have life jackets for every person aboard their vessels as required by law, but to go one step further and ensure everyone aboard is wearing a life jacket at all times while underway.
The theme for National Safe Boating Week this year is “Wear It!”
To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a Coast Guard-approved type I, II, III, or V (wearable) life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and longer, except canoes and kayaks, must have at least one type IV (throwable) device as well.
“A life jacket is the single-most important piece of survival equipment a boater can possess,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District. “Boaters should wear them at all times while underway, since most people enter the water unexpectedly. A life jacket can save your life — but only if you’re wearing it.”
According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety ‘s 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, the most current validated statistics available, 610 boaters died on our Nation’s waterways in that calendar year. Where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
In April, three elderly fishermen, spent 30 minutes in freezing water holding onto driftwood after their boat capsized. The boaters were not wearing their life jackets. If it were not for a good Samaritan driving by in his boat, the men may not have survived.
Emergency medical services treated the boaters after the good Samaritan rescued them, and one was hospitalized for hypothermia.
The Coast Guard released a new smartphone app for boaters, called United States Coast Guard, Saturday. As the nation’s recreational boating safety coordinator, the Coast Guard works to minimize loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm. The Coast Guard’s boating safety program involves public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements. The Coast Guard mobile app supports these missions by providing the essential services and information most commonly requested by boaters.