Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the boating season and is known as one of the busiest recreational boating weekends on the Mississippi River. With many boaters taking to the water, the increased recreational traffic presents additional safety hazards.
The 8th Coast Guard District would like to encourage people to have the following safety equipment on board their vessels: life jackets for everyone aboard, a noise-making device such as a horn, visual distress signals such as flares or a signal mirror and a fire extinguisher.
“Labor Day Weekend is a great time for family and friends to have fun on the water,” said Capt. Melvin Bouboulis, chief of staff, 8th Coast Guard District. “We want everyone to enjoy themselves, but more importantly, we want everyone to be safe. The first step to being safe on the water is taking proper safety precautions on shore. People should know the leading contributing factors in accidents while boating are alcohol consumption and not wearing a life jacket or having proper safety equipment.”
The following are safety tips for boaters prior to leaving the dock:
Never boat under the influence. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor of fatal boating accidents. It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is strongly discouraged.
Always wear a life jacket. A life jacket is required for each person aboard a vessel, sized accordingly and easily accessible. Children younger than 13 are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat to contact the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.
In the event of an emergency the Coast Guard can be reached on VHF-FM 16.
Have a vessel safety check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks and can be reached at www.cgaux.org. A vessel safety check is the best way to learn about potential violations of state and federal requirements. Most importantly, these quick exams can keep the boat and passengers out of harm’s way.
Boaters should be aware of, and obey, federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.
For boating information, go to http://www.uscgboating.org/.