PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard encourages boaters in the mid-Atlantic region to use extra caution while out on the water this Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the traditional beach and boating season, and is usually a very busy weekend on the water. Here are a few helpful tips for boaters to remember to stay safe on the water:
Wear a life jacket: life jackets save lives. 83 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing life jackets. Wearing a properly fitted life jacket is the number one way to improve someone’s survivability in the event of a maritime tragedy. They make life jackets for adults, children, infants, and even pets.
Communication devices: make sure you’re able to reach out to someone if an emergency strikes when you’re on the water. That means having a radio onboard that can broadcast on channel 16, which is the international hailing and distress frequency. Also, make sure any phones you bring along are charged and are protected from the water.
Boating sober: did you know that alcohol is involved in nearly one-third of all boating fatalities? It’s illegal to drive under the influence, and it’s illegal to boat under the influence, too! Learn more about boating sober here.
Make a Float Plan: float plans are simple. Just tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Here is a link to a PDF form that you can download and fill out to send to someone. Float plans help give rescuers a location to start looking for you.
Check the weather: know what kind of weather you’ll encounter. A good resource for checking the weather is the National Weather Service website.
If you see something, say something: if you see someone in danger or someone you suspect may be boating under the influence, reach out to the Coast Guard via VHF channel 16, or to local first responders via 911.
Download the Coast Guard Boating Safety mobile app: after downloading the free official app, you can file a float plan, report pollution, hazards, or suspicious activity, check the weather, and more.
For more boating safety info and tips, visit the Coast Guard’s boating safety site here.