Coast Guard emphasizes water safety ahead of fishing and boating season

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and the National Safe Boating Council are promoting safe boating practices during the upcoming boating and fishing season in the areas surrounding Eureka, Fort Bragg, Crescent City, Redding and Ukiah.

The public will notice increased air and boat enforcement patrols in the coming days.

“In the event of a capsizing emergency, mariners are advised to remain with their vessel,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabriel Vigil, spokesperson for Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay. “It is easier for rescuers to locate a large object in the water than it would be for a person.”

“If you see someone in trouble in the water, stay on the shore and call 911 or Coast Guard rescue at (707) 838-6113,” said Vigil. “Do not enter the water or you could end up being a victim as well.”

According to, in 2017 the Coast Guard confirmed more than 4,200 accidents resulting in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and more than $46 million in reported damages to property.

“Wearing a life vest during water activities is especially important for children,” said Vigil. “With Northern California’s cold ocean and swift flowing snow melt rivers, cold water paralysis can set in within minutes making swimming impossible.”

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where cause of death was known, 76 prevent of fatal boating accident victims drowned.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages all mariners to practice these tips before entering a vessel:

  • Wear a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of more than 80 percent of boating fatality victims.
  • Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Cell phones often lose signal and run out of batteries after a day on the water. Boaters should always monitor VHF-FM channel 16 for the most current ocean forecast and marine broadcasts information.
  • Register your EPIRB. Response time is the key to survival. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) provide the fastest and most accurate way for Coast Guard search-and-rescue crews in locating and rescuing people in distress.
  • Watch the Weather. Stay current with the latest weather and ocean conditions before heading out on the water through the local National Weather Service, visit
  • Get a Vessel Safety Check. It’s a great way of learning about problems that might create danger for boaters and passengers on the water, or put boaters in violation of state or federal laws. Visit , or contact a local Coast Guard station for details.
  • Take a boating safety course. Boaters can learn the basics about their vessels and the “rules of the road” in America’s boating course, an electronic boating course produced through a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. For more information, visit
  • Never boat under the influence (BUI). Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages all mariners, including paddle craft operators, to practice these tips before operating a vessel.

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