Coast Guard, Auxiliary announce National Safe Boating Week in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In recognition of National Safe Boating Week 2021, May 22-28, the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary across Alaska are encouraging and promoting safe boating practices to protect lives on the water.

The National Safe Boating Week campaign is a public outreach effort held annually during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971.

The campaign is designed to help reduce boating fatalities and accidents by generating awareness on the waterways in The Last Frontier.

“National Safe Boating Week is an important time to focus on safe boating practices,” said Michael Folkerts, the recreational boating safety specialist for the 17th Coast Guard District. “As boaters, we often don’t recognize the dangers of sudden cold-water immersion, or know how best to survive a fall overboard or capsizing.”

In 2019, Alaska, had a total of 14 boating accidents with seven injuries and 11 deaths. 2020 boating statistics are still being compiled.

Here are some boating safety tips to keep you safe on the water this summer:

  1. Wear a life jacket; they save lives. In Alaska, boaters are required to have one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard their vessel, and they must be in serviceable condition. Persons under 13 years old are required by law to wear a life jacket at all times when in an open boat, on the deck of a boat, or when waterskiing.
  2. Educate yourself through knowledge and skills-based training. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety Education courses offer both virtual and in person education classes.
  3. Wear your engine cut off switch link. The new law went into effect on April 1, 2021, requiring recreational boats to use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL). An ECOS is an emergency ignition cut-off device that shuts down the engine if the operator is ejected from the vessel or falls overboard. This law applies to any boats less than 26 feet in length that generate more than 115 pounds of static thrust (approximately 3 horsepower) and were built beginning in January 2020. It also requires operators to use the ECOSL while navigating on plane or above displacement speed.
  4. Boat sober! Abstain from using alcohol while underway. Alcohol consumption remains the single-greatest contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities.
  5. Check all required safety equipment to be sure it is in good working order. Vessel safety checks by the Coast Guard Auxiliary are free. Trained examiners help boaters review their equipment and give advice about how to improve safety.
  6. Check the weather. Be sure to look at the immediate weather forecast as well as the extended forecast; weather can change in Alaska in a matter of hours. Be prepared for it. The National Weather Service offers local and statewide current and extended marine weather forecasts on their website, which are broadcast on VHF marine-band radios.
  7. Take multiple forms of communication devices and extra batteries and chargers. Always remember, VHF-FM radio is the primary communications network for the maritime boating community. Enabling the Digital Selective Calling features on your VHF-FM marine radio can broadcast your location and information to every boat within range in an emergency. Also consider a personal emergency beacon, and ensure it is registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/beacon.html.

To sign up for Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety Education courses visit: http://cgaux.org/boatinged/.

To find out more about Vessel Safety Checks visit: http://www.cgaux.org/vsc/ or http://www.safetyseal.net/.

For more information on boating responsibly, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

Additional information on boating safety and resources can be found at  www.safeboatingcampaign.com.

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