The Coast Guard urges boaters to be ready this National Safe Boating Week as summer nears the Pacific Northwest.
This year, National Safe Boating Week takes place Saturday, May 22, through Friday, May 28. National Safe Boating Week promotes safe boating practices for recreational boaters in order to reduce preventable accidents and deaths. The Coast Guard encourages boaters to become safer, always ready boaters this 2021 boating season.
As air temperatures rise with the arrival of summer, be advised that water temperatures in the Pacific Northwest remain dangerously cold.
In 2019 in the U.S., 86 percent of drowning victims who died were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 23 percent of deaths.
Factors that contributed most to fatal accidents were failure to wear a life jacket, operator inattention or inexperience, alcohol and drug use, hazardous waters, weather conditions, and navigation rule violations.
Don’t forget: life jackets are required by law to be on all vessels, including kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. Federal law requires that all children ages 13 and under wear a life jacket.
Below are steps you can take to ensure a fun time out on the water this boating season:
• Take a boating safety course. Research show that boaters believe they are boating safely if they have proper equipment and training, though statistics show that safe boating is really a matter of their own behavior. Take It!
• Get the U.S. Coast Guard Mobile App. The self-contained app was mainly designed to provide additional boating safety resources for mobile device users, so personal information is stored on the phone and is not sent to the Coast Guard unless the user chooses to send it. The Coast Guard does not track a user's location, and the app does not track a user's location unless the app is being used. Get It! by searching in your app store for the U.S. Coast Guard Mobile App.
• File a float plan - Before you leave, create a plan and let someone staying behind know your itinerary. The plan should include the contact information for all individuals going out, the intended route, and what to do in case of emergency or non-arrival at the estimated return time. File It! with a Float Plan.
• Have a portable device with watertight protection to communicate an emergency on the water. Mariners should have signal flares, a whistle, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), or a personal locator beacon (PLB) to alert first responders.
• Use Digital Selective Calling and VHF-FM radios. Cell phones may lose signal offshore or run out of battery power. They are helpful but are not reliable for emergencies that occur on water. Channel 16 is the marine emergency channel to signal distress while on the water. It should only be used for emergencies. Use It!
• Always a wear a life jacket. Donning a life jacket is more difficult in the event of a capsizing incident or if knocked unconscious. Wear It!
• Always boat sober. Never boat under the influence. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
• Help us locate YOU! Take responsibility for your paddle craft by labeling with an 'If Found' sticker. This label allows responders to confirm if someone is actually in trouble and collect information to help search efforts. Mark It!
These simple steps can ensure you are prepared to enjoy the water safely and responsibly.