SEATTLE – Boating season in Washington state officially starts Saturday and the Coast Guard is recognizing it by sending out boating safety tips.
"There is no reason people should die having fun out on the water," said Capt. Anne Ewalt, 13th Coast Guard District's Chief of Staff, in a press release. "We see too many deaths from people not wearing their lifejackets and from being exposed to the cold waters of the Northwest."
The Coast Guard wants to boaters to stay safe by:
- Wearing a personal floatation device or life jacket at all times. The law states you must have a PFD for every person on board, but the Coast Guard suggests you go one step further and wear your PFD at all times when boating.
- Take a paddler education course and participate in Operation Paddle Smart: a Coast Guard initiative which provides free water-proof stickers for labeling owner identification and contact information to small, paddle craft vessels. An Operation Paddle Smart sticker can assist the Coast Guard when searching for the owner of a derelict or adrift paddle craft adrift, and can save hundreds of thousands of tax dollars per year searching for potential people in distress when there was no one in danger to begin with.
- File a float plan and leave it with someone who is not recreating on the water. A float plan is a lifesaving device on paper and can assist emergency responders with locating a distressed mariner.
- Have a digital selective calling VHF marine band radio that complies with the latest requirements that incorporate many additional safety features and functions.
- Have a visual signal or sound-producing devices to assist you if you are in distress.
- Have a registered 406MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.
- DO NOT boat under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Factor in boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray and a drinker's impairment is accelerated.
- Start the season off right with a thorough boat inspection, including the hull and propulsion equipment. Pay particular attention to through-hull fittings and hoses that may have cracked or become brittle over the winter.