SAN DIEGO–The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and the National Safe Boating Council are promoting safe boating practices during the upcoming boating season through the Safe Boating Week campaign, May 22-28.
This year’s theme, “Wear it! Always wear your life jacket!”, emphasizes the importance of wearing a personal floatation device at all times.
According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics released in 2008, more than two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
Wearing a life jacket at all times is critical to surviving a boating accident. Eighty-five percent of all boating accident fatalities nationwide were due to sudden, unexpected capsizing or falls overboard. All passengers 12-years-old and younger are required by law to wear life jackets, but all boaters are encouraged to wear one at all times.
“In the event of a capsizing emergency, mariners are advised to remain with their vessel,” said Lt. Amanda Sardone, pilot and spokesperson for Sector San Diego. “It’s much easier for us to be able to locate a large object in the water than it would be for a person.”
Safety tips for boaters before leaving the dock:
Wear a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of more than 80 percent of boating fatality victims.
Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Cell phones often lose signal and run out of batteries after a day on the water. They are helpful, but not reliable for emergencies.
Register your EPIRB. Response time is the key to survival. The sooner help arrives, the better the chances for survival. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) provide the fastest and most accurate way the Coast Guard has of locating and rescuing persons in distress.
Have a Vessel Safety Check. It’s a great way of learning about problems that might put boaters in violation of state or federal laws, or create danger for boaters and passengers on the water. Best of all, it’s free! For more information, visit www.sectorsandiegoauxiliary.us/
Take a boating safety course. Boaters can learn the basics about their vessels and the “rules of the road” in America’s Boating Course, a new electronic boating course produced through a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. For more information, visit www.americasboatingcourse.com
Never boat under the influence (BUI). Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
File a float plan. There are too many facts that need to be accurately remembered and conveyed in an emergency situation. Without a float plan boaters are counting on someone else, a friend, neighbor, or family member to remember detailed information that rescue personnel need in order to find you. For more information, visit www.floatplancentral.org
In addition, the Coast Guard would like to remind boaters of established “zones.” These zones may be put in place during marine events, escorts and large U.S. Navy vessels. The purpose of these zones is to set up parameters for the safe navigation while transiting inside San Diego Bay.
Boating safety information and the current boating safety statistic report is available on the U.S. Coast Guard boating safety web site at: www.uscgboating.org.