National Safe Boating Week Kicks Off Saturday - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

National Safe Boating Week Kicks Off Saturday

SEATTLE - The National Safe Boating Campaign, an annual campaign that raises life jacket awareness, kicks off with National Safe Boating Week on Saturday, May 22.

There were 55 recreational boating deaths in Wash., Ore., Idaho and Mont., in 2009. Life jackets were not worn in 41 of these tragic accidents. This illustrates more than 74 percent of boating fatalities might have been avoided if only a life jacket had been worn.

"We've always stressed the importance of having the proper equipment aboard, but the safety of the boat and its passengers is the responsibility of the vessel's operator," said Dan Shipman, Coast Guard Boating Safety Specialist. "The vessel's operator must set the example and make some important choices regarding the safety of passengers, choosing to have everyone wear a life jacket, choosing not to drink and boat and choosing to make sure their boat is properly equipped and maintained is all part of being a safe and responsible boater."

In the Pacific Northwest this year, the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary launched Operation Paddle Smart, a campaign aimed to educate paddle craft owners on water safety and provide them with a waterproof sticker, which can be beneficial to both boaters and emergency response personnel. Each sticker provides room to list the owner's name and contact information in case their craft is found drifting, greatly assisting in the initial investigation of a possible search and rescue case.

"This program will benefit boaters and emergency responders through improvised vessel identification," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Gary Blore, 13th Coast Guard District Commander. "A tremendous amount of time and thousands of dollars are expended each year searching for lost boaters. Our goal is to educate paddle-sport enthusiasts on their responsibilities, how to stay safe and help emergency responders in the event of an actual rescue situation."    

Boaters can get assistance in ensuring they are properly prepared by taking advantage of Operation Paddle Smart and other services offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadron, which are volunteer organizations dedicated to promoting safe boating. Both organizations offer a variety of safe boating courses and free vessel safety checks, which can help ensure a boat is properly equipped. To find out more information about what courses are being offered and to get more information, visit www.uscgaux.org or www.usps.org.

For more information regarding National Safe Boating Week please visit the following link: http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org

The mission of the National Safe Boating Council, Inc. (NSBC) is to enhance the safety of the recreational boating experience through education and outreach.

The NSBC was organized in September 1958 under the name National Safe Boating Committee. The NSBC presently has a membership of over 350 U.S. and Canadian organizations, all with interest in boating safety and education. The NSBC membership is diverse, with approximately 65 percent of the membership being nonprofit organizations and 35 percent being for-profit organizations.

All boaters should follow these important safety tips:

•     Wear a life jacket

•     Carry a VHF-FM marine radio

•     Don't drink and boat

•     Take a boating class, educated boaters are safe boaters

•     Check weather forecasts

•     Make sure the boat is in good repair

•     Check all safety gear and ensure that everybody is trained in its use

•     Make sure the boat drain plug is securely in place

•     Don't overload your boat

•     Keep a sharp lookout and monitor the weather and sea conditions

•     Keep your distance from military, passenger and commercial shipping

•     Observe the vessel traffic zones and stay clear of large commercial ships, tugs and barges

•     Follow the rules of the road and be a considerate boater

•     Operate at a safe speed, a safe speed is the distance you can safely stop to avoid a collision in the prevailing visibility and or density of boating traffic

•     File a float plan with family members, friends or your local marina to ensure someone knows your estimated time of return 

Take a boating class, because educated boaters are safe boaters. Check weather forecasts. Make sure the boat is in good repair. Check all safety gear and ensure the boat drain plug is securely in place. Don't overload your boat, keep a sharp lookout and monitor the weather and sea conditions. Keep your distance from military, passenger and commercial shipping; observe the vessel traffic zones and stay clear of large commercial ships, tugs and barges. Follow the rules of the road and be a considerate boater. Operate at a safe speed, which is the distance you can safely stop to avoid a collision in the prevailing visibility and or density of boating traffic.

For more details about the 2010 National Safe Boating Campaign log onto: www.safeboatingcampaign.com

For more information about Operation Paddle Smart click here.

To learn more about boating and paddling safety, visit the following Web sites:

U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety: www.uscgboating.org

National Safe Boating Council: www.safeboatingcouncil.org

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators: www.nasbla.org

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: www.cgaux.org

United States Power Squadrons: www.usps.org

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