Coast Guard, state authorities warn against unsafe
As New England summer recreational
boating increases, the Coast Guard and state authorities are ramping up boating
safety education efforts to reduce preventable accidents on the water.
“As we head into the Fourth of July weekend - traditionally a very heavy
recreational boating period - it's imperative that boaters remember to balance
fun with responsibility,” said Coast Guard Capt. Michael Baroody, commander
Sector Northern New England.
Already in 2016, there have been 18 fatalities in New England waters. Of those,
14 involved victims who were not wearing life jackets. More than half occurred
in Northern New England which includes the coastal waterways of Maine, New
Hampshire, and Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York.
“The fatalities that have already occurred on Maine waters this year are tragic
reminders that boaters must take all safety precautions every time they head
out,” said Colonel Jonathan B. Cornish of the Maine Marine Patrol.
“Maine's coast provides tremendous recreational opportunities but we strongly
encourage boaters to think ‘safety first’ so they can enjoy lasting memories of
a great time on the water,” said Cornish.
And while the opportunities are tremendous, the terrain is treacherous.
"Northern New England has an extremely challenging and complex operating
environment,” said Baroody.
In addition to the environment, Baroody said a lack of planning also presents
unique challenges. “Unprepared boaters make it more difficult for the Coast
Guard and other response agencies to locate and assist them if they are in
Authorities urge boaters to follow these best practices to ensure a fun day on
the water and safe return to land:
• Always wear a life jacket when on the water, and ensure
those with you were a life jacket. For more information on life jacket
safety, visit the National Safe Boating website at http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com.
• Boat Sober! Preferably, no one aboard will consume
alcohol while underway. However, if consuming alcohol, drink responsibly
while boating and use a designated (non-drinking) experienced boat operator.
• Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
Cold water temperature in the region - even during summer months - poses a
substantial risk to even the most prepared boaters. Wear layers if boating in
cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get
wet. If using paddle craft, consider the use of a wetsuit.
• Check for the latest marine weather forecast, including the
water temperature, prior to departure and regularly obtain weather updates
throughout your trip. Weather can change very rapidly, especially when on
• Have multiple means of communication, especially a VHF
radio. Cell phones (with full battery and a charger), satellite phones,
emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), and personal locator
beacons (PLBs) call also all contribute in an emergency situation.
• Ensure all safety equipment works prior to departure. This
includes checking fire extinguishers, expiration dates on flares, and ensuring
a working hand-held radio and sound producing device (horn or whistle)
• File a float plan to include details about your trip at http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/.
• Ensure that your deployable flotation device (such as a
life ring) remains accessible at all times.
• Know your vessel’s weight and passenger capacity and never
• Know and follow the navigational rules of the road.
• Don’t panic if you fall into the water. Stay afloat
with the help of your life jacket and regain control of your breathing.
Stay with your vessel if at all possible.
• Prepare your boat and schedule a free Vessel Safety Check
with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
For additional information on other boating safety resources please visit www.uscgboating.org.
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