Coast Guard reminds mariners to be safe over the holiday weekend

Southeastern Coast Guard News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard is reminding all mariners to be safe on the water during Labor Day weekend.

During the holiday, extra traffic on the water is expected and Coast Guard stations throughout the country will be on patrol.

“Holiday weekends are a great time for mariners to enjoy themselves on the water, but safety and preparation are key,” said Capt. Gregory Case, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s commanding officer. “We want mariners to make sure they are checking weather, and have the proper safety equipment aboard, including life jackets and VHF-FM radios. Situations can deteriorate quickly and having the right equipment can save your life.”

The Coast Guard will be paying particular attention to recreational boating safety and reminds all water enthusiasts to consider the following prior to making way:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Do not drink and boat. According to the 2012 recreational boating statistics, alcohol use was a contributing factor in 30 accidents, resulting in nine deaths and 30 injuries statewide.
  • 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.
  • Don’t allow friends and family members to carelessly bow-ride. Bow-riding refers to the unsafe practice of passengers remaining on the bow of a recreational vessel while it is making way.
  • 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.

Click any of the links below for further boating safety information.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Vessel Safety Checks
Coast Guard Boating Safety page
National Safe Boating Council
U.S. Power Squadrons
Boating Safety Sidekicks

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