Coast Guard Auxiliary Emphasizes Boating Safety for July 4 Weekend

WASHINGTON – As thousands of boaters celebrate the nation’s birthday on the water, the Coast Guard emphasizes that the waterways will be even more dangerous and more difficult to navigate than usual.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary asks the public to be more aware of their surroundings, including watching the weather, celebrating responsibly and understanding the hazards of boating under the influence of alcohol and misusing flares as fireworks.

Each year during this time, the Coast Guard receives and responds to numerous calls of boaters firing emergency flares from their vessels. While the possession of flares on your vessel is required, flares should only be fired to indicate distress. With the increase of maritime traffic, the firing of a flare in a non-emergency situation could result in a delayed response to a legitimate maritime emergency. Firing a flare when not experiencing an actual emergency could also result in a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, $250,000 in fines and reimbursement of all costs that the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the false distress.

In addition, boaters are also reminded of the dangers of drinking and boating. Along with decreasing the operator’s ability to make good judgments, the consumption of alcohol also negatively affects the ability of the passengers to respond in the case of an emergency on the water. The effects of the sun, wind, waves and a boat’s motion in the water add to an operator’s impairment. Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

In order to be safe, mariners should monitor the weather forecast and be aware of surrounding conditions that can change quickly, especially during the summer months. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly on VHF marine radio and lists the weather on the NWS website at

Members of the boating public are encouraged to always wear a life jacket, have a working VHF-FM radio and electronic position indicating radio beacon ( EPIRB )on board and let someone know where they plan to be boating. Doing these simple tasks could save your life or the life of your passengers and increase the effectiveness of Coast Guard response in the event of an emergency.

Additional information on safe and secure boating practices can be found at the Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety page at

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