Coast Guard reminds boaters to stay safe in wake of recent close calls

Southeastern Coast Guard News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – In the wake of numerous recent emergencies on the water, the Coast Guard is reminding mariners to play it safe.

“Just a few simple practices can keep most mariners out of trouble at sea,” said Capt. Gregory Case, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s commanding officer.

  • Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details your destination and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.
  • Have working communication equipment aboard your vessel. 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.
  • Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change rapidly, so mariners planning on making way should keep a watchful eye on the forecast conditions.
  • Wear your life jacket! More than 90 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.
  • Inspect your boat to avoid breakdowns that often lead to tragedy in the water. Obtain a free, no-fault vessel safety check, which can be conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, before heading out on the water. The safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.

Below are approximate prices for boating safety equipment.

VHF-FM radio $120
personal locator beacon $250
flare kit $100
lifejacket $40
survival mirror $10

“You can never put a price on a life and when an emergency happens,” said Case. “Having emergency equipment aboard your vessel and not needing it, is much better than needing it and not having it.”

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