USCG Stresses Importance of Free Vessel Safety Checks
As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard 9th District is reminding boaters Sunday to get a free vessel safety check from the Coast Guard Auxiliary before going out onto the lakes this boating season.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is an all-volunteer force that keeps the nation’s waterways safer and more secure by providing vessel safety checks and boating education courses.
The Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft users and paddlers, take advantage of these free offers. Boaters who have undergone a vessel safety check recently may also find that vessel boardings by Coast Guard boarding officers could be expedited.
“Getting a vessel safety check is the best way of learning about problems that might put you in violation of state or federal laws,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District. “And a boating course will teach you not only how to properly navigate on the lakes, but what to do in emergencies.”
According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety's 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, of the 610 deaths across the nation, more than 250 boat operators had not taken a safety class.
Qualified volunteer organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, and others sponsor many boating courses and state boating agencies also provide classes.
Boaters should go to http://cgaux.org/vsc/ to schedule vessel safety checks or http://cgaux.org/boatinged/ to find available boating courses nearby.
Boaters can also request safety checks through the new U.S. Coast Guard smartphone app, available to download on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Features of the app include: state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water.