Enjoy Your 4th of July Weekend! Be Safe!

The upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend in the US may be the busiest weekend of the year for boaters!  Enjoying the 4th on the water, watching as the fireworks explode in multi-color patterns above while listening to some great tunes is a favorite activity of boaters in general as well as cruisers.

The US Coast Guard has a few safety tips for the busiest weekend of the year including:

1.  File a float plan with someone who won’t be out on the water for the weekend.   Not familiar with a float plan, click here for USCG recommendations. 

2.  Have a VHF radio aboard and make sure it works by conducting a proper radio check.  VHF Channel 16 is the distress channel and a MayDay call placed on that channel will reach the proper authorities for help.

I say “proper” radio check because too many boaters clutter up channel 16 with needless “radio check please” requests.  In Florida, and many other locations around the US, SeaTow has an automated radio check service that reduces the clutter on channel 16.  You simply call on VHF channel 24, 26, 27 or 28.   Pick the channel, listen to make sure it’s not in use, call for your radio check as you normally would.  The automated system will record your voice and play it back to you letting you hear how you sound.  How cool is that!!!   Here’s a link for more information, or a video demonstration.  FlagandSail copy

3.  Be familiar with the safety equipment required for your size boat.  US Federal law dictates that all vessels over 16 feet must carry visual distress signals such as flares or smoke signals.  If you’re unsure what’s required for your boat, click here for our Boarded by the US Coast Guard post which includes a link to the US Federal Safe Boating Regulations, a downloadable PDF. 

4.  Carry a registered 406MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).  EPIRB’s are good for all boaters, but especially if you plan to cruise in areas outside cell phone/VHF range.   The EPIRB will automatically transmit your vessel information to the US Coast Guard if there’s an emergency.

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5.  Don’t operate ANY boat while under the influence of alcohol or other substances.  We have a rule aboard Winterlude, no alcohol until the anchor is down and firmly set.   Every year there are tragic boating related deaths due to alcohol consumption.  Becoming one of the statistics will not enhance your enjoyment of the boating lifestyle!

6.  Wear your lifejacket — the US Coast Guard recommends this for all boaters, but aboard a cruising boat it can seem silly.  You are required to have a life jacket aboard that fits every passenger – so if you take a bunch of friends out for the day or evening, be sure to have life jackets for everyone.   Make sure they know where they are and how to wear them.   Also, if you have children aboard, all states have regulations requiring children to wear life jackets at all times.  The regulations vary, but in Florida any child under the age of 6 must wear a life jacket.  Personally I think that any child under the age of 12 should wear a life jacket at all times.   Also, anyone who doesn’t know how to swim!  But that’s just me.

Coast Guard statistics report that 70% of all boating accident victims drowned and 84% of those were not wearing a life jacket. Keep in mind,  at the moment of an accident, it may be too late to retrieve your life jacket and put it on.

7.  Use common sense.  Don’t set off fireworks from your boat, that’s just asking for trouble, but we’ve seen it done.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July Weekend on the water!   Anyone have other safety tips for the weekend?  Please leave a comment and share!   Cheers!   Jan

Seventy percent of all boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.  – See more at: http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1484939/Coast-Guard-urges-boating-safety-for-4th-of-July-holiday#sthash.PFRB6Gn4.dpuf
Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16-feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices. State and local laws may require further safety equipment.
  – See more at: http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1484939/Coast-Guard-urges-boating-safety-for-4th-of-July-holiday#sthash.rI0MDpYn.dpuf
Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16-feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices. State and local laws may require further safety equipment.
  – See more at: http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1484939/Coast-Guard-urges-boating-safety-for-4th-of-July-holiday#sthash.rI0MDpYn.dpuf
Additionally, in accordance with federal law, recreational boats 16-feet and longer are required to carry visual distress signals such as flares, smoke signals or non-pyrotechnic devices. State and local laws may require further safety equipment.
  – See more at: http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1484939/Coast-Guard-urges-boating-safety-for-4th-of-July-holiday#sthash.rI0MDpYn.dpuf

Comments

  1. bari spesard says:

    …felt like sending this article to the Washington Post for inclusion! If there ever was a time to remind boaters of the safety requirements, it would be this day in this DC area! We tried to make it to Annapolis Harbor to watch fireworks from our boat but had to put in half way down the Potomac, so are back home watching the fireworks at the Capitol (with seemingly everyone else in the world!).
    Thanks for the cogent article. Have a wonderful 4th of July!

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