2008 marks lowest recreational boating fatalities in 25 years

JUNEAU, Alaska – There were 12 recreational boating fatalities throughout the coastal waters of Alaska during 2008 making it the lowest since 1983.

The Coast Guard continuously encourages recreational boaters to remember specific safety precautions and be prepared for emergency situations. Boaters can find themselves in trouble by failing to take simple precautions before getting underway.

“Alaska’s waters are spectacular and can be deadly to the ill-prepared boater,” said Mike Folkerts, recreational boating safety specialist for the Seventeenth Coast Guard District. “Most recreational fatalities are from capsizing or falls overboard. Wear your lifejacket, it will buy you the critical time you need for a rescue if you end up in the water.”

The Coast Guard suspended its search Feb. 28 after two mariners were reported missing Feb. 22 while transiting from Juneau to Ketchikan on the vessel Transition. The only evidence found during the search was a door found in Frederick Sound on Kupreanof Island, Alaska.

Below are a few of these precautions and guidelines that will help boaters have a safe and enjoyable time on the water.

Make a Float Plan: Tell someone where you are going, when you will be back and what route you will be traveling, as well as the names of the persons on board. Also, make sure you have enough fuel for your voyage.

Use Safety Equipment: Wear life jackets and travel with a marine VHF radio. Communication with the Coast Guard is critical in case of an emergency on the water.

Get a Vessel Safety Check: The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free inspections of pleasure boats to ensure that you have all the required safety equipment. More information is available at http://www.safetyseal.net/ Click on “I want a VSC” to find an examiner near you.Don’t Drink and Boat: Drinking and boating don’t mix. Boating while intoxicated can result in arrest or worse can cause a fatal accident. Be smart don’t drink and boat.

For more information on boating safety, visit http://www.uscgboating.org.

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