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The Memorial holiday is the unofficial kick-off of the summer boating season. The National Safe Boating Council, a lead organization of the Safe Boating Campaign, encourages boaters to be responsible at all times while on the water.
“In many areas, the water is open, however, it’s more important than ever that boaters are responsible to limit unnecessary risk not only to themselves, but to other boaters, law enforcement, and first responders,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization of the Safe Boating Campaign.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2018 and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
There are many U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets for different activities like boating, fishing, paddling, or hunting.
“When selecting a life jacket, pick one that fits you snugly and comfortably, and that you will want to wear,” said Peg Phillips, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. “You’ll need to consider your body type, swim skills, recreational water activity, and environment.”
The Safe Boating Campaign offers these safety tips for safely enjoying the Memorial holiday:
- Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. New innovative styles provide mobility and flexibility during water activities.
- Check equipment. Make sure you have and know how to use all the essential equipment.
- Make a float plan. Let family and friends know where you’re going and when you will return.
- Use an engine cutoff device. An engine cutoff device is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
- Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during your excursion.
- Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2018 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
- Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
- Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
- Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important devices in an emergency.
The Safe Boating Campaign also offers these safety tips social distancing while boating.
For more boating safety tips, download this handy boating safety tip checklist.