The Coast Guard reminds boaters to exercise caution and safe boating practices while on the water, including rivers and Lake Tahoe while enjoying the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
All boaters and beach goers are encouraged to be aware of boat traffic, prepare for potential hazards and keep advised of weather changes through the National Weather Service. Winds are supposed to be calm on Lake Tahoe this weekend, one should always check.
California has the third largest number of recreational boats in the country and has the second highest number of boating-related accidents and deaths according to the Coast Guard’s 2015 statistics.
Friday marks both the last day of National Safe Boating Week and signifies the start of the recreational boating season. The week aims to raise awareness of safe boating practices in an effort to decrease the number of recreational boating accidents.
The Coast Guard urges boaters to obtain a free vessel safety check, which can be conducted by the 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. Recreational boating safety checks can be requested from the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s safety check site.
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, 626 people died in boating and paddling accidents in 2015. Approximately 76 percent drown, and more than 85 percent of those people were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the lead contributing factor in fatal boating accidents accounting for nearly 17 percent of all reported fatalities.
Some other tips to help boaters have a safe and pleasant summer on the water include:
Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are on board your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details about 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.
Check the Local Notice to Mariners page relevant to your area. It will include vital information pertaining to safe boating and on the water events and activities boaters should be aware of.
Wear your life jacket! More than 85 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.
Boaters can also download the free Coast Guard mobile app to file a float plan, report hazards to navigation, pollution and suspicious behavior, and to access additional information on boating safety and vessel requirements. The app can be found on iOS and Android market stores.
Further boating safety information can be found online at the following:
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: http://www.cgaux.org/
Vessel Safety Checks: http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/
Coast Guard Boating Safety page: http://www.uscgboating.org/
National Safe Boating Council: http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/
Article courtesy of: southtahoenow.com