The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary will focus their efforts on Operation Weekend Warrior, campaign to promote safe boating practices during the Labor Day weekend, which marks the unofficial end to the summer boating season.
This summer the Coast Guard responded to more than 229 search and rescue cases in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area.
Over the holiday weekend, Coast Guard and Auxiliary boat crews will have a heightened presence, conducting patrols and boardings to ensure compliance with recreational boating safety regulations.
Crews will also be checking for people operating a boat under the influence of alcohol, which 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.
In an effort to reduce the number of incidents on the water and to increase the safety of people on the water, the Coast Guard also recommends the following:
• Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel, gives a complete vessel description, and details your destination and when you plan to return. Float plans aid rescuers in identifying a search area in the event of an emergency.
• Wear a life jacket. More than 90 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. Also, a snug-fitting life jacket can increase the chances of surviving in cold water.
• Inspect your boat to avoid breakdowns that often lead to tragedy on the water. 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.
• Educate yourself. Most boating fatalities occur on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course. Courses given by the Coast Guard Auxiliary cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to reading the weather.
More information on the importance of boating safety and resources detailing steps that can be taken to minimize risk on the water can be found at www.safeboatingcampaign.com and http://www.uscgboating.org/safety/default.aspx.— News release from the U.S. Coast Guard