[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ational Safe Boating Week is coming up and will be celebrated May 18-24, 2013, leading into Memorial Day weekend – the official kickoff of the boating season for much of America. National Safe Boating Week’s goal is to raise public awareness about the importance of following safe boating practices while on the water, including life jacket use.
The nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation for boating safety and Sea Tow Services International, Inc. offer boaters these 6 tips for National Safe Boating Week:
- PDFs for You and Me: While children under the age of 13 are required to wear life jackets while boating, everyone is better protected when wearing one. New options such as inflatable belt packs and lightweight vests are cooler and more comfortable than life jackets of the past. “Life jackets save lives, but only if you wear them,” says Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director Gail R. Kulp.
- What’s Your Frequency? Although many boaters rely on cell phones today, coverage can be spotty or nonexistent on the water. A VHF radio allows boaters to broadcast a call for help to the Coast Guard and anyone else in the area monitoring Channel 16. “Before taking your boat out, perform a radio check to make sure your VHF is operational,” Kulp recommended. “In many boating areas, you can do this via the free Sea Tow Automated Radio Check service. Visit www.seatow.com/boating-safety/automated-radio-checks to find the Automated Radio Check VHF frequency near you, along with easy instructions on how to use the service.”
- Be a Class Act. Boater Education classes offer something for everyone, even experienced boaters. With boating safety requirements changing frequently, these courses can help ensure you are up to date. Plus, boaters who complete a boating safety class may be eligible for a discount on their boat owner’s insurance. A list of approved boating safety courses offered nationwide can be found at www.nasbla.net/courseListing.php.
- Time for a Checkup: The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons offer free Vessel Safety Checks to help get boaters ready for the season. They provide a checklist of everything you need to have on board, from an anchor to a fire extinguisher, to be safe and legal on the water.
- Designate a Sober Skipper: Boat operators need to be clear-headed and able to make quick decisions when operating a vessel. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs – even some prescription and over-the-counter medicines – decreases reaction time and the ability to think clearly. “Be smart and always designate a sober skipper,” said Kulp.
- Be Smart and Yellow! Renew your Sea Tow Membership for the coming boating season. With U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Sea Tow Captains standing at the ready in their yellow boats 24/7/365, you will have the peace of mind of knowing professional help is on the way anytime you call for aid on the water.
Kulp also reminds boaters that a number of special events are planned during and preceding National Safe Boating Week, including Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on May 17, and Ready Set, Wear It! on May 18. For more information, please visit the National Safe Boating Council website at www.safeboatingcampaign.com.