Coast Guard urges safe boating during holiday weekend

Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 45-foot Response Boat-Medium file photo

Coast Guard Station Miami Beach 45-foot Response Boat-Medium file photo

MIAMI — The Coast Guard reminds boaters throughout the 7th District to use extra caution while out on the water this holiday weekend.

Coast Guard crews, along with local and state law enforcement agencies, will be patrolling, conducting safety checks and ensuring mariners are staying safe.

Before you leave the dock, review these boating safety tips:

Always wear a life jacket. Ensure there are enough life jackets for every person on the boat and children under 12-years-old should wear one when out on the open deck.

Boat sober. 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.

Have a float plan. A float plan should be given to a friend or family member and includes where you are going, when you will be back, a description of your boat, and other passengers. If you change plans mid-voyage, let someone know.

Have a marine radio. A VHF-FM radio set to channel 16 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 or a dead battery.

Ask the Captain. Before you get underway on a charter, or even pay for the trip, ask the captain to see their merchant mariner credentials.

Check the weather. Know the weather limitations of the boat. Check the weather for storms, tides, currents and winds.

Dive Safely. Always use a dive flag with swimmers in the water. Use GPS tracking for currents and drift.

Have an EPIRB. Always go out with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal to emergency responders through a satellite system.

Be COVID-19 safe. The National Safe Boating Council offers boaters tips for social distancing 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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