This past Saturday marked the start of National Safe Boating Week 2011. It is no coincidence that this week, focused on educating boaters about the latest safe boating practices, takes place in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the recreational boating season. Whether you plan to spend the summer sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding or just relaxing by the water, it is important to educate yourself on proper safe boating practices as you enjoy the majesty of our nation’s lakes, rivers and coasts.
Many of you will be taking your boats out for the first time in months and should keep an eye out for the men and women of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Nationwide, the Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks at various locations convenient to boaters including docks, marinas and launch ramps. The vessel safety check is a courtesy examination to see if your boat is properly equipped for an emergency. One of the best aspects of the safety check, besides the fact that it is free, is that it does not constitute law enforcement activity and citations are not issued regardless of the result of the exam. If you don’t know when the examinations will take place in your area, you can always schedule one here.
Along with ensuring your vessel is ready for an emergency, it is important that you are ready for one as well. Drowning remains the primary cause of death in recreational boating accidents, accounting for 70 percent of all boating deaths in 2009. Of these who drowned, 90 percent were not wearing their life jackets. Wearing a life jacket is one of the most effective and simple life-saving strategies for safe boating, and when you are on or near the water you can can do your part to keep yourself and your family safe be wearing your life jacket. Coast Guard approved life jackets come in many shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that is comfortable and stylish without sacrificing safety. But don’t forget, after you find the perfect life jacket… wear it!
Even though the summer months are already upon us, there is still time to enroll in a boating safety course. These courses are offered nationwide and equip boaters at all skill levels and ages with safe boating skills and the knowledge you need to be safe on the water. Boating safety courses can teach you everything from required and recommended safety equipment to more advanced boat handling skills and navigation principles. You can find a boating safety course near you, here.
There are countless resources available for all boaters to ensure they are safe and responsible on the water, and we look forward to sharing more information on how to make recreational boating safer for everyone in the upcoming weeks. You can check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter as we continue to share information on float plans, EPIRBs, the dangers of boating under the influence and much more! As we continue the dialogue let us know what you would like to hear more about, or share how you “boat responsibly!”