The Coast Guard, along with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and state boating agencies from New Jersey to Maine are working together to stress the importance of recreational boating and paddling safety.
Labor Day weekend, for many boaters and paddlers, signals the end of the summer boating season. It is also one of the busiest boating weekends of the year.
Coast Guard crews will be patrolling, conducting safety checks, and watching for people boating under the influence or operating in an unsafe manner.
Boaters and paddlers should:
- Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Be aware of weather and water conditions.
- File a float plan to let others know where you are going. Examples at: Float Plan Central.
- Have a VHF radio since cell phone services are unreliable offshore.
- Be cautious – do not exceed your ability to handle your vessel, and be constantly aware of other vessels.
- Observe safety and security zones while on the water.
“Boaters and paddlers need to be particularly careful this weekend due to recent floodwaters created from Hurricane Irene,” said Walt Taylor, the 1st Coast Guard District’s Recreational Boating Safety specialist. “The best advice is not to go out on rivers or other waters affected by the flood. There are more dangers than most people can imagine.”
Even when floodwater recedes, boaters may be tempted to think the danger is past. Floodwaters move much faster; may be contaminated with fuel, sewage, or other hazardous waste; and may be littered with surface and underwater debris that can damage vessels and create impassable obstacles.
Boaters and paddlers should check water conditions at the the following sites:
For many, the boating season is now gearing down and Taylor strongly recommended that all boaters utilize the off-season to take a recreational boating safety course. Courses are offered either through their respective state, with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadrons, both of which can be accessed through U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadron. Additional course information is available through the BOAT/U.S. Foundation at 1-800-336-BOAT.
For additional boating safety tips, and the recently released Recreational Boating Statistics 2010, boaters can access the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Web site.