Before casting off from the dock, U.S. Coast Guard officials want boaters to be cautious and prepared to make the cruise more enjoyable and to reduce the risk of incidents on the water.
The 8th Coast Guard District encourages boaters to have life jackets for everyone aboard, a noise making device such as a horn, visual distress signals such as flares or a signal mirror, and a fire extinguisher.
"We want everyone to enjoy themselves, but more importantly, we want everyone to be safe. The first step to being safe on the water is taking proper safety precautions on shore, said Capt. Melvin Bouboulis, 8th Coast Guard District chief of staff. “People should know the leading contributing factors in accidents while boating are alcohol consumption and not wearing a life jacket or having proper safety equipment.”
The following are safety tips for boaters to be aware of prior to leaving the dock:
- Vessels intending on anchoring should be equipped with a suitable anchor and anchor line.
- Boaters should exercise caution in use of the vessel’s battery. Powering a radio or other auxiliary equipment throughout the day may drain a vessel’s battery. A battery jump pack is highly recommended in the event that your vessel becomes disabled.
- Never boat under the influence. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor of all fatal boating accidents. It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is strongly discouraged.
- Always wear a life jacket. A life jacket is required for each person aboard a vessel, sized accordingly and easily accessible. Children younger than 13 years old are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
- Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.
- In lieu of a VHF-FM marine radio, a fully charged cell phone is recommended. In the event of an emergency the Coast Guard can be reached on VHF-FM 16.
- Have a Vessel Safety Check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks and can be reached at http://www.cgaux.org/. A vessel safety check is the best possible way to learn about potential violations of state and federal requirements. Most importantly, these quick exams can keep your boat and passengers out of harm’s way.
- Boaters should be aware of, and obey, all federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.
For more boating information, go to http://www.uscgboating.org/.