Keeping a Lookout. The following article from The American Boating Association discusses holidays, inspections, and being aware.
The holidays and boating
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is urging all boaters to use extra caution while boating during the upcoming July 4th holiday. The 4th of July, along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, typically account for more than one third of all boating related accidents and fatalities. In light of the dangers, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering seven tips to stay safe while boating during this busy summer holiday:
Make sure your boat is properly equipped and that required equipment is functioning properly. The 4th of July is sometimes the first and only time people venture out on the water after dark. Make sure your navigation lights work so you can be seen. Better yet, request a free Vessel Safety Check to make sure your boat has all the legally required and recommended equipment onboard.
Be prepared for emergencies.
Accidents happen quickly, often with little or no warning. Take the time to familiarize your crew with basic emergency procedures. Show them how to contact authorities for help via marine radio or cell phone. If you boat in an area that requires flares, make sure they are up to date, but never use flares as a form of fireworks. Doing so constitutes a false distress call. It’s a class D felony. You can be punished up to six years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Included will also be the cost associated with the false distress.
Boating and alcohol do not mix. Boaters are also reminded of the dangers of drinking and boating. We know alcohol decreases the operator’s ability to make good judgments. The consumption of alcohol also negatively affects the ability of passengers to respond in the case of an emergency on the water. The effects of the sun, wind, waves and a boat’s motion in the water can add to an operator’s impairment. Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Always be on the lookout for drunk boaters.
Let someone know you’re out there…
File a Float Plan with a friend. A float plan for a boater is similar to a flight plan for a pilot. It lists who is going, where you’re going, what the boat looks like, and when you expect to be back. Don’t file this with the Coast Guard. File this with a friend who will be staying ashore and instruct them what to do in the event that they don’t hear from you. You and your float plan holder will agree upon a time. Click here for the USCG float plan online.
Always be aware of your surroundings
Keep a sharp lookout for other boats, the weather, or anything that is unusual: The Coast Guard asks the public to be more aware of their surroundings, including carefully watching the weather, celebrating responsibly and understanding the hazards of boating under the influence of alcohol and misusing emergency flares as fireworks. Report any emergencies to local authorities by calling 911 or VHF-FM channel 16. Any suspicious activity that might involve terrorism should be reported to America’s Waterway Watch at 877-24-WATCH.
Caution, Courtesy, and Common Sense
Practice the 3 Cs – caution, courtesy, and common sense: Use caution, especially in close quarter maneuvering situations with other boats. In such situations, slow speeds are better. Be courteous to your fellow boaters, and use common sense. Don’t cut people off at the launch ramp, and never light fireworks from your boat! By following these seven simple tips, you could save your life or the life of your passengers.
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