Coast Guard urges safe boating practices after two weekend deaths

Coast Guard Station New York 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Strohmaier)

Coast Guard Station New York 45-foot Response Boat-Medium file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Strohmaier

NEW YORK —The U.S. Coast Guard is urging boaters to use caution while on the water after two people died last weekend.

Boaters should review boating navigation rules and remain alert on the water after seeing a high number of boats collisions and running aground.

“I offer my deepest condolences for the family and friends of those involved in these tragic accidents, which are horrific reminders of the need for constant safety on our waterways,” said Capt. Kevin Reed, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.

Other important safety practices include:

Wear a life jacket: Life jackets save lives. Accidents can leave even a strong swimmer injured, unconscious, or exhausted in the water. Boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and passengers not only have a life jacket, but wear it at all times while boating.

Never boat under the influence (BUI): It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

File a float plan: Leave a detailed float plan with a friend or family member who is staying back. The sooner a craft can be reported overdue, the more likely a positive outcome will result. For examples of a float plan, and for more information, visit www.floatplancentral.cgaux.org before you go.

Take a VHF-FM marine radio: VHF-channel 16 is the marine emergency channel. It should only be used for emergencies. Boaters can reach the Coast Guard on marine-band radios at any time, day or night.

Monitor weather broadcasts: Watch for current storm and small craft advisories. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Forecasts can be heard by tuning in to channels 1 through 5 on a VHF marine radio or by checking the NWS website at www.weather.gov.

Have a signaling device to communicate an emergency: Boaters should have signal flares, whistle, horn, or signal mirror, in addition to an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) to alert first responders to the location of a water emergency.

Navigation rules and guidelines can be found at www.uscgboating.org.

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