National Safe Boating Week 2015: Safety equipment

Vessel DocumentationCoast Guard Safety Alerts

National Safe Boating Week 2015 runs from May 16-22, 2015. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Wear It!’, today’s feature covers boating safety equipment, which may save the life of you and your passengers in critical situations. Stay tuned all week as we share important boating safety information, and feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Boat safe!

In 2014, the Coast Guard was notified of 4,064 boating accidents that resulted in 610 people killed, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million of damage to property.

But that does not tell the entire story. Where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket, the single most important piece of safety equipment you can have on.

If you think it just affects larger vessels and boats, you’re wrong. Eight out of every 10 people who drowned in 2014 were reported using boats less than 21-feet in length.

 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Peed, a boarding officer at Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Fla., assists Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Olsen with paperwork during a vessel boarding near Sand Key Saturday, June 28, 2014. The boarding conducted is a safety check to make sure a boater has the proper safety equipment on their vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Crystalynn A Kneen)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Peed, a boarding officer at Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Fla., assists Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Olsen with paperwork during a vessel boarding near Sand Key Saturday, June 28, 2014. The boarding conducted is a safety check to make sure a boater has the proper safety equipment on their vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Crystalynn A Kneen)

 

With more than 11.8 million recreational vessels registered in the U.S. last year, here are some mandatory and recommended safety equipment tips to help reduce deaths, injuries and damage to property.

First and foremost, all recreational vessels must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board. Additionally, any boat 16-feet or longer, except canoes and kayaks, must also carry at least one throwable type IV device.

Life jackets must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved, in good and serviceable condition, as well as appropriate size and type for the intended user.

Life jackets should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway. A life jacket can save your life, but only if you wear it.

Next, having a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, onboard is highly recommended for boaters who venture further offshore. According to the Coast Guard’s Office of Search and Rescue, EPIRBS have saved more than 22,000 lives since the system became operational in the 1980s. They are highly effective because the allow rescuers to pinpoint with accuracy your vessels position, which usually enables a quicker response time.

A handheld VH-FM marine radio is a vital piece of communication equipment. Relying solely on a cell phone may leave you without a way to call for assistance during a distress situation. Worse yet, in a life or death situation not having the ability to communicate could be dire for you and your passengers.

 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ana Radolinski, a boarding officer at Coast Guard Station New York, performs a routine safety boarding while patrolling the Hudson River, N.Y., during Operation Dry Water, June 28, 2014. Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide campaign during which federal, state and local maritime agencies increase law enforcement presence to educate boaters and raise awareness that it is unsafe, as well as illegal, to operate a boat under the influence of drugs and or alcohol.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ana Radolinski, a boarding officer at Coast Guard Station New York, performs a routine safety boarding while patrolling the Hudson River, N.Y., during Operation Dry Water, June 28, 2014. Operation Dry Water is an annual nationwide campaign during which federal, state and local maritime agencies increase law enforcement presence to educate boaters and raise awareness that it is unsafe, as well as illegal, to operate a boat under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

 

U.S. Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers are required on boats wherea fire hazard could be expected from the engines or fuel system. A letter and number symbol classify extinguishers; the letter indicates the type of fire the unit is designed to extinguish.

Finally, vessels operating on U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and territorial seas, as well as those waters connected directly, up to a point where the waterway is less than two nautical miles wide, must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals. This includes day or night flares, signaling flags and a signaling mirror.

If you’re unsure what safety equipment you need onboard your vessel, use the new Coast Guard mobile app for boating safety as a quick and easy way to check. The app allows you to enter the size and type of propulsion for your vessel, then gives required and recommended safety equipment that you should have onboard. With the Coast Guard app, you’ll never have to try and remember which safety equipment you need – all that information will be right at your fingertips!

 

Annie Grenier, a Kids Don’t Float instructor with the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, encourages a preschool student as she puts on a life jacket in Bethel, Alaska, April 13, 2015. Boating safety educators visited children in the Lower Kuskokwim School District to help prepare them for life in a river community. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst)

Annie Grenier, a Kids Don’t Float instructor with the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, encourages a preschool student as she puts on a life jacket in Bethel, Alaska, April 13, 2015. Boating safety educators visited children in the Lower Kuskokwim School District to help prepare them for life in a river community. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst)

 

For more information about safety equipment, please visit the Coast Guard boating safety website.