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Coast Guard kicks off National safe Boating Week in Florida

May 12, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Coast Guard is scheduled to kick off National Safe Boating Week May 16 though Memorial Day weekend and conduct opens houses for the community and media throughout the week.

Memorial Day weekend marks the informal beginning of summer and is expected to be a busy on the water.  This year the holiday weekend coincides with National Safe Boating Week and Coast Guard units throughout the local area will be on patrol. Boaters can expect an increased presence from the Coast Guard and partner agencies, who will be paying particular attention to recreational boating safety. 

Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Most boating fatalities occur on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course. Courses cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to reading the weather.

The Coast Guard urges boaters to obtain a free vessel safety check, which can be conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, before heading out on the water. Vessel safety checks, are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.

This year during National Safe Boating Week, and throughout the boating season, remember to practice safe and responsible boating. Always wear a life jacket and be alert and aware while on the water. 

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/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

Nationwide, more people die every year in boating and paddling accidents.  Approximately two-thirds drown, and, more than 90% of these were not wearing a life jacket. 

Here are some other tips to help boaters have a safe and pleasant summer on the water:

Minimize the risk:

If you have safety equipment, you're minimizing the possibility for something to happen. Here are some other tips to help boaters have a safe and prepared summer on the water:           

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon:

Own it, know it, and register it. An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal if you get into trouble. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system.

Wear it:

Life jackets tops the list for safety. Life jackets should bear a tag that shows they are Coast Guard approved.           

Float plan:

Boaters should prepare a written float plan that's given to friends or family members to show where they're bound, when they plan to leave shore and when they plan to return. If something goes wrong, they can call for help for you. Make sure somebody knows where you're at. The float plan should also include a description of your boat and a description of the safety equipment you are carrying.           


Boaters should check the weather before embarking. Know your weather limitations - what your boat can handle and what it can't. Check the weather for storms, tides, currents and winds.           

Good equipment:

A VHF-FM 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. Purchase radios to assure communication with other boaters and Coast Guard crews. Its range can be picked up much farther than a cell phone; Furthermore, have nautical charts of the area you are boating in, a global positioning device and a reliable means of communication on board your vessel. 

Don’t be distracted: Just like driving a car, don’t do anything that can take your attention away from operating a boat. Talking and texting are a distraction while trying to maintain safety on the water.

Don’t bow ride:The Coast Guard nation-wide urges the boating public to think twice before allowing their friends and family members to carelessly bow ride. “You wouldn’t allow your kids to sit of the hood of your car, so why would you allow them to sit on the bow of your boat?” Bow riding refers to the unsafe practice of passengers remaining on the bow of a recreational vessel while it is making way.     

Inspect your vessel:

Inspect your boat to avoid breakdowns that too often lead to tragedy in the water. You're supposed to do a full check before you take the boat out. Run the engine to see if it's working. 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 Auxiliary offers free boating safety classes. The biggest problem is lack of knowledge and boatmanship ability.

Coast Guard stations in the area are scheduled to hold open houses. Below are the unit and date who will conduct an open house:

Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, May 16, 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., 600 8th Ave. SE, St. Petersburg, Florida,

Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach, Florida, May 16 and 17, 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., 719 San Carlos Drive, Fort Myers Beach.

For further boating safety information, check online at one of the following:

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary:

Vessel Safety Checks:

Coast Guard Boating Safety page:

National Safe Boating Council:

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