Mentor Harbor rescue shows importance of proper gear and training for personal watercraft safety

U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers recommend boaters carry certain items to better enable them to safely operate their vessels, and if needed to signal for help. A lifejacket for each person on board a vessel is required by law, but several other items can also greatly improve the odds of your survival in the event of a distress situation. Charts of your intended route aid navigation and allow you to avoid hazards, a first aid kit can be used to treat minor injuries, a VHF-FM radio, cellphone, whistle, and strobe light can be used to signal others, and a waterproof storage bag will protect valuables and those items that cannot get wet. Finally, a bottle of water will keep you hydrated and help avoid heat-related injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null/Released)

CLEVELAND — On July 30, shortly after 9 p.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, New York, were notified of an overdue jet skier who had departed Mentor Harbor, Ohio around 7 p.m., and failed to return.

Sector Buffalo diverted a rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Fairport, located in Grand River, Ohio, and launched an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit. They also issued an urgent marine information broadcast to alert other mariners of the situation.

Before rescue crews arrived on scene, a good Samaritan had reported hearing a whistle blowing, headed in its direction and located a man in the water. The man confirmed that he had fallen off his jet ski and it drifted away from him.

He had been in the water for over two hours.

“It is important every person heading out on a personal watercraft be familiar with its operation and how to safely and quickly get back aboard should they fall out,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland. “Having a sound producing device attached to your life jacket, such as a whistle, is strongly encouraged and in some cases the law.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is strongly reminding boaters of the importance of taking proper safety precautions before venturing out on their kayaks, paddle boards or other personal watercraft. These safety precautions include taking gear and equipment to increase survivability like a safety whistle to attract attention.

Every year, the Coast Guard responds to numerous reports of distress and requests for assistance involving such vessels. Many of those cases involve operators falling out and not being able to get back into their watercraft.

Organizations, like the American Canoe Association and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, offer courses for vessels of all kinds. These courses typically cover everything from safe and proper vessel operation to safety equipment.

U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers recommend boaters carry certain items to better enable them to safely operate their vessels, and if needed to signal for help. A lifejacket for each person on board a vessel is required by law, but several other items can also greatly improve the odds of your survival in the event of a distress situation. Charts of your intended route aid navigation and allow you to avoid hazards, a first aid kit can be used to treat minor injuries, a VHF-FM radio, cellphone, whistle, and strobe light can be used to signal others, and a waterproof storage bag will protect valuables and those items that cannot get wet. Finally, a bottle of water will keep you hydrated and help avoid heat-related injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null/Released)

U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers recommend boaters carry certain items to better enable them to safely operate their vessels, and if needed to signal for help. A lifejacket for each person on board a vessel is required by law, but several other items can also greatly improve the odds of your survival in the event of a distress situation. Charts of your intended route aid navigation and allow you to avoid hazards, a first aid kit can be used to treat minor injuries, a VHF-FM radio, cellphone, whistle, and strobe light can be used to signal others, and a waterproof storage bag will protect valuables and those items that cannot get wet. Finally, a bottle of water will keep you hydrated and help avoid heat-related injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null/Released)

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