Labor Day Boating Safety Advisory

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – For many, Labor Day weekend signals the waning days of the summer boating season. As part of their recreational boating safety efforts, the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and boating agencies from New Jersey to North Carolina are working together to raise recreational boating safety awareness during one of the busiest weekends of the year.

“Lifejackets, for most drowning victims, would have been the deciding, life-saving factor that could have prevented the loss of life,” said Dennis Sens, the Fifth Coast Guard District’s recreational boating specialist.

“If we could communicate two messages for the Labor Day weekend,” Sens said, “it would be to simply wear your lifejacket and be totally aware, at all times, of what’s going on around you. It’s usually what you don’t see that you hit or hits you. On the water, it’s paramount to be the prudent mariner.”

To enjoy a safe day on the water, boaters should:

  • Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, especially on children and weak swimmers;
  • Be aware of weather and water conditions;
  • Never boat or paddle alone – file a float plan to let others know where you are going
  • Be cautious – do not exceed your ability to handle your vessel;
  • Know that alcohol and drugs contribute to accidents and,
  • Be constantly aware of other vessels in the immediate area.

Sens also recommends coastal and off-shore recreational boaters and sea kayakers carry a VHF marine radio, either a fixed system or handheld unit, and be familiar with its operation and radio procedures. “The VHF radio, monitored on channel 16,” Sens said, “is your gateway to communicating with the Coast Guard or other vessels in your area and can be a life saver in a distress situation.”

For many, the boating season is now slowing down, and Sens strongly recommends that all boaters utilize the off-season lull to take a recreational boating safety course. Courses are offered through their respective state, with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadrons. Additional course information is available through the BOAT/U.S. Foundation at 1-800-336-BOAT.

For additional boating safety tips, boaters can access the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Web site.

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