Date: May 19, 2011
Contact: Public Affairs Det. Atlantic City
National Safe Boating Week marks the informal beginning of summer and Coast Guard crews throughout the Delaware Bay region will be on patrol paying particular attention to recreational boating safety.
“Remember to wear your life jackets, monitor your marine radio and file and update as needed a float plan with a trusted family member or friend,” said Capt. Todd Gatlin, the deputy commander at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia. “In summary, think safety. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable boating season.”
Nationwide, more than 700 people die every year in boating and paddling accidents. Approximately two-thirds drown and more than 90 percent of these were not wearing a life jacket.
The most recent data for the Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey waters shows 200 boating accidents occurred in 2009 resulting in a total of 18 fatalities.
The Coast Guard urges boaters to obtain a free, no-fault vessel safety check, which can be conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, before heading out on the water. The safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.
The Coast Guard also urges boaters to boat sober. Boating under the influence or boating while intoxicated is just as deadly as drinking and driving. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI and BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.
Other dangers include bow riding, which occurs when passengers unsafely remain on the bow of a recreational vessel while it is making way. This is inherently unsafe when the bow is not outfitted with the appropriate safety equipment for seating passengers, such as a non-skid deck surface, railings or seats. Even while wearing a life jacket, a person who falls off the bow can be at risk of a propeller strike.
Here are some other tips to help boaters have a safe and pleasant summer on the water:
- Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details your destination and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.
- Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly, and you should keep a watchful eye on the forecasted conditions.
- Have nautical charts of the area you are boating in, a global positioning device and a reliable means of communication on board your vessel. VHF-radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.
- Wear your life jacket. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.
Media wanting more information are requested to contact Public Affairs Detachment Atlantic City, N.J., at 609-677-2204.
For further boating safety information, check online at one of the following:
Vessel Safety Checks: http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/
U.S. Power Squadrons: http://www.usps.org/
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