Coast Guard kicks off National Safe Boating Week

MIAMI — The Coast Guard reminds boaters to be safe on the water during National Safe Boating Week, Saturday through Memorial Day weekend.

“Prior to going out on the water, boaters need to ensure they have the proper safety equipment is onboard, and check the weather forecast,” said Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Miami. “One thing we have control over is how we prepare. Preparing for a worst-case scenario can increase your chance of survival, and may give the Coast Guard the help we need to execute a successful search and rescue case.”

Here are some tips boaters can use to have a safe and fun summer on the water:

  • Always wear a life jacket. More than two-thirds of recreational boating accidents result in drownings, and, more than 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
  • Boat sober. Alcohol was the leading factor in boating accidents for 2018. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.
  • Ask the Captain. Before you get underway on a charter, or even pay for the trip, ask the captain to see their credentials. You are putting your life at risk and in danger when you get underway on a charter vessel without a properly credentialed mariner, so you have the right to know the charter is legal.
  • Check the weather before going out on the water. Know your weather limitations – what your boat can handle and what it can’t. Check the weather for storms, tides, currents and winds.
  • Have an EPIRB. Always go out with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Own it, know it, and register it. An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal if you get into trouble. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system.
  • Tell someone where you’re going. If you change plans mid-voyage, let someone know! A written float plan should be given to a friend or family member and includes a description of your boat, what is on board and a description of the safety equipment you are carrying.
  • Always take a marine radio. A VHF-FM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.
  • Be COVID-19 safe. The National Safe Boating Council offers boaters tips for social distancing and safe boating including: maintaining a safe distance while at the fuel dock, and washing your hands frequently or using a hand sanitizer after touching a marina gate or fuel pump.
  • Download the free Coast Guard app. Focusing on recreational boating, the app has a float plan function, the ability to check weather reports from the nearest NOAA buoys, a function for calling for assistance when in distress and more. It is currently available for free on iOS and Android devices.

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