The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary San Juan Islands Detachment is partnering with Washington State public safety professionals May 19 – 25 for National Safe Boating Week to urge everyone to safely enjoy the natural beauty of our beautiful water.
A simple, fast and easy way to dramatically reduce water deaths is to simply wear your life jacket. In Washington last year, there were 109 reported boating accidents resulting in 15 fatalities and 51 injuries. Of those 15 tragic deaths, 73 percent were not wearing a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates wearing a life jacket could prevent more than 80 percent of boating fatalities.
The only life jacket that will save your life is the one you wear. Life jackets are more comfortable, lightweight and come in styles for every boating and water activity. Make sure your lifejacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, fits properly and is rated for your size and weight.
Washington State Law requires children age 12 and younger are required to wear a lifejacket at all times. Remember, all vessels – including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards – must have at least one properly fitted Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person onboard. More about lifejackets – www.wearitwashington.org
In the waters around the San Juan Islands, water temperatures average below 50 degrees. Falling into cold water is extremely dangerous and the biggest risk is cold-water shock. Wearing a life jacket is critical to survive the first stage of cold-water immersion. People especially at risk for possible cold-water shock are often those in kayaks, paddleboards, dinghies, rowboats, small fishing and sail boats. Learn more about surviving cold-water shock at www.coldwatersafety.org
Boating education and safety classes are a vital tool to protect life and property. In analyzing boating and water accidents, human error accounts for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Washington residents must carry a Boater Education Card while on the water operating a power-boat greater than 15 horsepower. This includes people over 12 years of age and born after January 1, 1955. By getting your card, you will have the opportunity to review boating safety and learn how to operate your vessel in a safe manner. Find out how to get Boater Education Card at https://boat.wa.gov
If you plan on boating outside of the State of Washington, you are encouraged to determine what the state, territory, and/or nation's boater education/competency requirements need to be satisfied prior to getting underway. National Safe Boating Week is coordinated each year by the National Safe Boating Council and boating safety partners across the U.S. and Canada.
For more safe boating tips and resources, the U.S. Coast Guard provides information at http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/boating-safety-courses.php