BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — May 16th, 2020 marks the start of “National Safe Boating Week,” a US Coast Guard initiative to encourage the millions of Americans heading out on the water this summer to boat safely and responsibly.
In 2018, more than 600 people died in boating accidents according to the USCG; they dedicate a week out of every year to urge people to familiarize themselves with the safety rules and regulations when it comes to boating.
Some of those rules include having a Coast Guard certified Life Jacket for everyone on board and keeping those in an easily accessible location if not already wearing them.
Also, know where the safety equipment like a fire extinguisher, flare gun, etc. is on the boat and how to use it in case of an emergency.
They also stress the importance of not drinking while driving a boat, which is illegal.
Most fatal boating accidents are alcohol-related, and the Coast Guard says anyone involved in the operation of a boat whatsoever must remain sober.
“If you’re the one sitting next to the person who is actually driving the boat, giving them places to go, directions to steer, you’re technically driving the boat too so be cautious of that,” said Mitchell Brauning, a mechanical technician for the USCG in Panama City. “Make sure you have a designated driver, same thing as when you’re in a car. Being on the water is inherently more dangerous, there’s a lot more stuff that can go wrong so we just want to make sure everybody’s safe out there.”
The USCG has a mobile app available for free download on the App Store and Google Play; click here to get more information on the app and how to download it.