Play Safe, Be Safe

SEATTLE – With the summer boating season is almost upon us, the Coast Guard reminds boaters and beach-goers to be prepared and stay aware. Boaters and beach-goers should follow these guidelines to ensure their safety:

1. Check Local Weather Forecasts: Be aware that storms can come up quickly and without warning. Always check local weather conditions and forecasts before heading out.

2. Wear Personal Flotation Devices: Life jackets – bring one for each person. History has shown that the chance of survival greatly increases if an individual is wearing a personal flotation device. For more information on life jacket requirements visit:

3. Stay Sober: Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. For more information on boating under the influence visit:

4. Have a Marine Radio: Investing in a good VHF radio is a smart purchase. Cell phones should not be used as a primary means of emergency communication on the water where reception may be poor or unavailable. A VHF radio has certain advantages such as:

* Strong signal.
* Channels reserved for distress calls. (VHF channel 16)
* Distress calls are received by everyone monitoring a VHF radio in range, whereas cell phone communications are point-to-point.

For more in-depth information about radios and terminology visit the link below.

5. Float Plan: A float plan is a written statement of the details of an intended voyage usually filed with a friend, neighbor and/or marina operator or; a document that specifically describes the vessel, equipment, crew, and itinerary of a planned voyage. Leave a copy with a friend, relative or local marina before heading out on the water. If a vessel has an emergency or is overdue, pertinent information will be available to provide local marine police or the Coast Guard. If delayed, boaters should inform those with the float plan, and be sure to notify them upon returning so the float plan can be “closed out” and an unnecessary and costly search avoided. An example of a float plan can be found at

6. Get Your Boat Checked Before Heading Out: The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadron offers a free Vessel Safety Check. Common problems found are lack of personal flotation devices, lack of visual distress signals or inoperable navigational lights. For a complete list of what boaters should check prior to heading out, or to schedule a free vessel safety check, visit:

7. Boating Safety Classes: A variety of boating safety classes are available. These classes are provided through the Coast Guard Auxiliary in many locations. Visit the link below for a listing and description of available classes.

8. Cover your boat: Heavy rains can flood boats and even cause sinking in extreme cases. Protect your boat and be sure your vessel is adequately covered when it is moored up to prevent flooding.

9. Large Waves, Strong Currents and Debris: Strong winds are often associated with large swells and waves. Waves breaking on the beach can suck people out to sea. They can also carry large pieces drift wood and other debris. When walking on the beach exercise precaution and avoid headlands and other exposed areas. Always let someone know where you are going and walk with a buddy.

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