Portsmouth, Virginia – 9/3/2021- The Coast Guard reminds mariners and beachgoers to exercise caution and practice safe boating during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the winding down of the summer boating season in advance of the cooler weather and air temperatures of the fall. As boaters take to the water during the busy weekend, there is an increased likelihood for search and rescue situations, mechanical failures and accidents.
The Coast Guard recommends boaters:
- Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway. 80% of boating deaths are due to drowning and 86% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. In addition, if you are enjoying paddlesports, always wear your life jacket. It can be difficult to anticipate how tired you may become when entering the water, and it can be extremely difficult to don a life jacket in the water even when fully rested.
- Make sure your life jacket is properly fitted. People can slip out of ill-fitting life jackets when they hit the water, which immediately decreases their chances of survival.
- Don’t drink and boat. Aside from wearing a life jacket, not drinking and boating is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating vessels under the influence of alcohol, drugs or impairing medication pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard.
- Make a VHF radio your go-to means of communicating in an emergency. Cell phones may go out of range or lose battery power when needed most.
- Locator beacons can help us find you faster. Attaching a functioning EPIRB to your boat, or a PPIRB to your life jacket, and knowing how to use them can help rescuers find and help you.
- File a float plan. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Float plans provide a starting point to help find you if something happens. Check out the Coast Guard Boating Safety app. You can file a float plan, request assistance, request a vessel safety check, and report pollution and hazards to navigation.
- Look at the weather and tides before you head out. It might look like a nice day, but squalls and shifting tides and change suddenly.
- Dress for the water, not for the weather. Check water temperatures before you go out and dress accordingly.