This week, 22May through 28May is National Safe Boating Week. It is also the fiftieth Anniversary of the Federal Safe Boating Act of 1971.
The five most important things you can do for a safe boating experience are:
A) Wear your life jacket,
B) Educate yourself through knowledge and skills-based training,
C) Wear your engine cut of switch link,
D) Abstain from using alcohol while underway,
E) Get a free Vessel Safety Check from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary
While the Covid-19 pandemic has had the US Coast Guard Auxiliary pretty much drydocked, at the same time it led to a significant increase in boating activity in 2020. Boat sales hit record highs with first time boat buyers making up a larger percentage than at any time during the past ten years. The combination of record boat activity and sales, first time boat owners and difficulty receiving in person education combined to increase the number of accidents and resultant injuries and deaths across the country. 2020 deaths increased 24% over 2019 figures. 79% of the boating fatalities were drownings and 86% of those were victims who were not wearing their life jacket. You never know when you will need it and a life jacket not worn does no good once that accident happens. Donning it while flying through the air or after you hit the water does not work.
This year wearing the engine cut off switch link is required by law for open vessels 26 feet in length and under. US Coast Guard statistics show that each year on average 75 people die and 400 are injured when they are struck by a propeller and/or a runaway boat. If your boat does not have one, have one installed by a qualified marine mechanic. And USE it.
Alcohol consumption remains the single greatest contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities. Last year 23%of the nations boating related deaths involved alcohol. Please do not drink and boat.
Do you know what safety equipment is required for your vessel? Is it on board and is it working? While we have been shut down this past year the US Coast Guard Auxiliary is gearing up to again conduct vessel safety exams at boat ramps and marinas. You may also request an exam at https://www.cgaux.org/vsc/
The Auxiliary’s Vessel Safety Exam is a voluntary program to help you ensure your vessel is ready for the river. Take advantage of it.
The Prairie du Chien Flotilla is currently setting up Boating Safety Classes with a new curriculum and will be announcing a schedule soon.
The US Coast Guard and US Coast Guard Auxiliary hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer on the water and will be glad to assist you in doing so.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the all-volunteer uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org