National Safe Boating Week will be held from May 22-28, 2021, reminding all boaters to brush up on boating safety skills and prepare for the boating season. This observance week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.
“The best boating experience is safe boating,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council, a nonprofit dedicated to helping create a safe boating experience for all boaters and the lead organization of the Safe Boating Campaign. “Have fun on the water, make memories with your family and friends – all while boating responsibly.”
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2019, and that 86 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
There are many options for boaters when it comes to choosing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, a boater should check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity, and fits properly.
“Remember, the best life jacket is the one you will wear,” said Pentz. “Whether you’re going fishing or just enjoying a ride on the boat, boat like a pro and make sure you’re prepared for the adventure.”
The National Safe Boating Council recommends these tips for boaters:
- Take a boating safety course.Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
- Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
- Make a float plan.Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
- Wear a life jacket.Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
- Use an engine cut-off device – it’s the law.An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, 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 the excursion.
- Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2019 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
- Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, 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. Always designate a sober skipper.
- Keep in touch.Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.
The Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The campaign offers a variety of free and paid resources to support local boating safety education efforts. Learn more at www.safeboatingcampaign.com.