Coast Guard stresses importance of snow removal, winter safety

Valdez Small Boat Harbor file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry Clark.

Valdez Small Boat Harbor file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry Clark.

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard is encouraging boaters to remove snow and ice buildup from moored vessels, and to take safety precautions throughout the cold weather season.

Accumulation of snow and ice on a vessel can reduce stability and cause sinking, property damage and pollution.

Mariners should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including a life jacket, while out on the water during the winter months. Dry suits and other insulated life jackets can drastically improve the chances of survival if a boater ends up in the water.

“Perform routine vessel checks and verify that your contact information is up to date with your harbor or marina,” said Michael Folkerts, boating safety specialist, 17th Coast Guard District. “Ice and snow can clog cockpit drains causing additional weight loads that can push the waterline over scuppers and through hulls. A common cause of harbor sinkings are frozen and then cracked hulls, and failed fittings. Winter conditions can be rough on boats, and even rougher on boaters who end up in the water. We can’t stress enough how dangerous and unforgiving Alaskan waters can be this time of year.”

The Coast Guard encourages vessel owners to notify their local harbor master if a situation arises that prevents them from being able to monitor the condition of their vessel.

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