Coast Guard urges boating and water safety after 7 deaths within a week

5th Coast Guard District NewsPORTSMOUTH, Va. – Due to a high number of water related deaths in June, the Coast Guard urges boaters and beachgoers to be safe and prepared for the holiday weekend.

Even though the average number of boating related deaths has dropped both nationally and regionally trends show that numbers rise during the summer months.

In the past week, a 55-year-old male fell overboard while crabbing in Maryland’s Bush River; a 25-year-old male was ejected from a 23-foot boat in Barnegat Bay, N.J.; a 14-year-old male went into Virginia’s Rappahannock River while walking along a sandbar; a 14-year-old girl was trapped under a capsized vessel in Annapolis, Md.; a 19-year-old male fell while inner-tubing off Carolina Beach, N.C.; a 45-year-old male  was trapped under a capsized vessel in Turkey Point, Md.; and a 27-year-old male drowned while trying to jump from a boat to a pier in Chesapeake City, Md.

“There is a certain element of risk when you go boating, and there are inherent dangers to swimming in tidal waters,” said Dennis Sens, Coast Guard 5th District recreational boating safety specialist. “As more people consider heading to the water, they should also consider how to be safe on it.”

Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Most boating fatalities occur when the boat operator has not completed a boating safety education course. Courses cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to reading the weather.

The Coast Guard also urges boaters to obtain a free vessel safety check, which is conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary before heading out on the water. Vessel safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.

“Just as you practice defensive driving on the road, you need to do so just as much, if not more, on the water,” explained Sens. “Be aware of your surroundings and react accordingly, especially at night, in bad weather, or when there are many more boaters on the water. It’s critical to be mindful of navigation.”

The Coast Guard responds to many search and rescue cases, and not all are boating related.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents are responsible for more than 100 drownings every year in this country. Dangerous currents are not restricted to beaches, either. Again, said Sens, caution, knowledge and awareness can make the difference between life and death. Be careful of the dangers of swimming in tidal waters, especially if unfamiliar with them; learn the signs of rip currents; and know how to escape them: Stay calm, and rather than swim against the rip current, let it carry you out and then swim parallel to the shore and back in to safety.

For further boating, beach and water safety information, check online at one of the following:


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