Coast Guard asks boaters to label, properly secure kayaks, canoes, paddleboards

Through the Operation Paddle Smart Program, the Coast Guard offers a free, weatherproof and reflective, self-adhesive "If Found" decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered (unregistered) watercraft.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart Program, the Coast Guard offers a free, weatherproof and reflective, self-adhesive “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered (unregistered) watercraft.

BOSTON — The Coast Guard is asking the public to label their kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards with their name and phone number after an influx of cases this summer involving unmanned and adrift paddlecraft.

Coast Guard units throughout the Northeast have responded to more than 90 cases of unmanned, adrift and mostly unlabeled paddlecraft so far this year.

Each time an unmanned and adrift paddlecraft is reported it triggers a search for a person who may be associated with it and could be in distress. However, often times the paddlecraft are adrift after not being properly stored or secured.

Paddlecraft owners can use a permanent marker to write their name and phone number and then cover the writing with clear tape to increase durability or they can use an “If Found” sticker which is available at local Coast Guard Auxiliary units.

When paddlecraft are labeled the Coast Guard can reach out directly to the owner and quickly ascertain if they are in distress or if they simply lost their paddlecraft. Confirming the owner is not in distress keeps Coast Guard resources available for actual emergencies.

“We have to treat each of these cases as if a person’s life is at stake,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Stuart Broadway, an operations unit controller at the First Coast Guard District command center. “A label can be the difference between resolving the case with one phone call or launching multiple Coast Guard, state, and local assets.”

Owners should make sure their paddlecraft are stored securely or removed completely from the beaches to avoid them drifting out to sea.

Click here to find the nearest Coast Guard Auxiliary unit.

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