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National Safe Boating Week Promotes Lifesaving Practices for Boaters Across the Nation

Prepare for National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24, by refreshing your knowledge and ensuring you're equipped for safe boating adventures. Stay informed and stay safe on the water with essential safety tips and resources.

As the maritime community eagerly anticipates the onset of boating season, National Safe Boating Week, from May 18-24, stands as a reminder for all boaters to prioritize safety. Spearheaded by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC), this annual observance marks the commencement of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global initiative aimed at instilling a culture of responsibility and preparedness among boaters. With more boaters taking to the water than ever before, the NSBC urges boating enthusiasts to promote responsible boating during “Wear Your Life Jacket at Work Day” on May 17 and National Safe Boating Week.

The NSBC encourages all boaters to join in the fun by wearing their life jackets at work and posting creative pictures on social media for a chance to win a prize.

Share a picture of yourself wearing a life jacket at work (or home) on social media using the hashtag #wearyourlifejacketatworkday and tag @boatingcampaign (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram). Don’t use social media? Email photos to outreach@safeboatingcouncil.org.

Winners will be chosen randomly throughout the day to receive boating swag from the Safe Boating Campaign, such as T-shirts, dry bags, first-aid kits, stickers and more.

Peg Phillips, the executive director of the council, underscores the paramount importance of safety education, saying, “We’re dedicated to imparting the message that the ultimate boating experience is one that prioritizes safety above all else.”

Phillips emphasizes the critical role of life jackets in mitigating risks, particularly in light of U.S. Coast Guard statistics revealing that drownings accounted for four-fifths of recreational boating fatalities, with 75% of victims failing to wear life jackets.

Recognizing the diversity of life jacket options available to boaters, Phillips stresses the necessity of choosing Coast Guard-approved vests tailored to the specific water activity and ensuring proper fit. “The effectiveness of a life jacket hinges on its usage,” asserts Phillips, emphasizing the importance of donning life jackets consistently during boating excursions.

Life jackets for boating vary. There are inflatables to save space, foam for reliability, hybrids for balance, paddle sports for freedom, kids’ for safety, fishing for gear and offshore for rough waters. Choose the appropriate style of life jacket based on activity fit, and safety standards like those set by the Coast Guard.

In line with the campaign’s objectives, the council offers a slew of recommendations to bolster boating safety:

  1. Enroll in a boating safety course – Acquire essential knowledge and practical experience through courses catering to individuals of varying skill levels.
  2. Conduct equipment checks – Schedule a thorough vessel safety check with a local Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to verify the integrity and functionality of essential equipment.
  3. Develop a float plan – Prioritize communication by outlining a detailed float plan, sharing pertinent trip details with a shore-based contact before embarking on the journey.
  4. Embrace life jackets –­ Advocate for universal life jacket usage among passengers, ensuring each individual wears a life jacket at all times during the voyage.
  5. Utilize engine cut-off switches – Adhere to legal requirements by employing engine cut-off switches, a vital safety mechanism to halt powerboat engines in the event of an unexpected operator overboard situation.
  6. Monitor weather conditions – Stay abreast of changing weather patterns by regularly checking forecasts before and during boating excursions.
  7. Maintain situational awareness – Exercise vigilance and attentiveness, avoiding distractions and remaining cognizant of surrounding conditions at all times.
  8. Navigate safely – Familiarize yourself with navigational routes and adhere to prescribed speed limits, prioritizing safety while traversing waterways.
  9. Avoid boating under the influence – Commit to responsible boating practices by refraining from operating vessels under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  10. Ensure communication devices – Equip the vessel with multiple communication devices capable of functioning in wet conditions, including VHF radios, emergency locator beacons and satellite phones.

The Safe Boating Campaign serves as a clarion call for boaters to embrace a safety-first mindset, fostering a culture of preparedness and vigilance to safeguard lives and enhance enjoyment on the water. For additional resources and educational opportunities, boaters are encouraged to visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com and www.safeboatingcouncil.org.

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