With warmer temperatures being felt around Whatcom County and more sunny days ahead, there’s no better time to refresh on boating safety before going out on the water.
National Safe Boating Week gives boaters the opportunity to educate themselves during the week of Saturday, May 20 through Friday, May 26. The campaign, led by the National Safe Boating Council, focuses on reminding people to wear their life jackets and other safe boating practices.
Drowning accounted for four out of every five recreational boating deaths in 2021, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Just over 80 percent of people who drowned were not wearing life jackets. Life jackets should fit properly and be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the National Safe Boating Council.
The National Safe Boating Council also recommends the following:
• Take a boating safety course.
• Check equipment. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons provide free vessel safety checks.
• Make a float plan. Provide a trip itinerary to a trusted person that includes information of those aboard, boat type and registration and communication equipment on the vessel.
• Wear a life jacket.
• Use an engine cut-off switch.
• Watch the weather.
• Be aware of surroundings. A quarter of all boating accidents in 2021 were caused by distracted boaters.
• Know the area and travel the speed limit.
• Never boat under the influence. Boating under the influence was involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
• Have more than one communication device that works when wet, such as VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones or cell phones.
Washington state law requires operators of vessels at least 15 horsepower to have a Washington State Boater Education Card on them. The education card can be earned through online courses on the Washington State Parks website.
Mayor Mary Lou Steward read a proclamation supporting the goals of National Safe Boating Week at the May 8 Blaine City Council meeting.
“I urge everyone to enjoy the water as I have,” Steward said. “It’s lots of fun but be safe.”
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