NEW ORLEANS, LA — The Coast Guard kicked off the start of National Safe Boating Week with Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day at many of its units Friday.
National Safe Boating Week, which takes place May 18-25, is an initiative aimed at improving boater behavior through education, awareness and training to make recreational boating a safe and enjoyable experience by reducing boating accidents.
In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4,515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3,000 injuries and approximately $38 million damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Approximately 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 85 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
As part of the "Wear It" campaign, the 8th Coast Guard District and its units are taking part in donning life jackets for Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. The campaign encourages all boaters to wear a properly-fitted personal floatation device when out on the water.
Throughout NSBW, the Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer safe boating classes and free vessel safety checks. To find the location of the nearest Auxiliary flotilla and a schedule of safe-boating classes, please click here.
- File a float plan – Before you go out leave information about your trip with a family member or friend who is staying on shore. Include all information that would help rescuers in case of an emergency; how many people on board, where you are going, how long you will be out and a description of your boat. However, do not file float plans with the Coast Guard. Like a life vest, a float plan is a lifesaving device on paper, which can make the difference in rescue and response time in the event of an emergency.
- Communication devices - With marine band radios on board and set to channel 16, a boater is only a call away from help. The Coast Guard, other rescue agencies and other boaters monitor marine band radios 24/7, which increases the number of people who can respond. The radios are better than cellular phones because their signals can be of assistance locating a person in distress. Though cell phones are better than no communication device at all, they tend to have gaps in coverage while on the water, and they have limited battery life.
- Equip your boat with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon – An EPIRB is a safety device that automatically transmits an emergency signal when it is placed or floating in the up-right position. The signal allows the Coast Guard and other rescue agencies to pin point your location. EPIRBs are essential for any vessel especially those that transit far offshore. The device is designed to send accurate location as well as identify information to rescue authorities immediately upon activation through both geostationary and polar orbiting satellites.
For more on National Safe Boating Week click here.