Make Dad’s Day Safer in the Bay!

As Father’s Day quickly approaches, now is the time for a few last-minute gifts to show dad just how much you really love him. If your dad is a boater, deck shoes and sunglasses are great gifts, but how about something that could potentially save his life?The U.S. Coast Guard stresses that lifejackets and other personal flotation devices are a minimum in safety standards. If dad won’t wear a bulky lifejacket, there are plenty of slim, low-profile styles to choose from. Prices range from $40 – $125.

Very High Frequency (VHF) radios can be critically important in saving lives. The U.S. Coast Guard’s search and rescue channel is 16, and if dad is in distress, three seconds on a VHF radio could help save his life. The Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 is a VHF high capability system that gives “line of bearings” which pinpoint positions of those distressed individuals. These are much better than cell phones which don’t always help search and rescue teams find dad. Prices range from $60 – $575.

Save a “boat” load of money by taking dad’s boat for a free vessel-safety check at the nearest Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla. While you’re there, sign him up for a boating safety class. The more he knows about his boat, the more prepared he’ll be in the event of an emergency. Also, make sure dad’s fire extinguishers and medical and flare kits are up to date.

Have him file a float plan with a trusted landlubber before he gets underway.. A float plan should include basic information about his trip; including, where he is going, what time he will depart and return, who is with him and any other important information that will assist rescuers in locating him if necessary. Leave a photo of the boat with the landlubber to give a better description of the watercraft to search and rescue teams.

One of best locating devices for dad is called an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). If properly registered, EPIRBs can significantly diminish the time it takes rescuers to find him. offers electronic registration forms that can be e-mailed, faxed or mailed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Prices range from $180 – $1300.

If these items are too costly, make dad a “boater’s basket” of inexpensive signaling devices. Small flares, glow sticks, a strobe light, a compact mirror and a whistle are a few tools that can be attached to a regularly-worn lifejacket and used to signal rescuers in an emergency.

This year, let dad know how much you care. Although some of these items can be expensive, nothing is as priceless as a loved one’s life.

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