POSTED: Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 11:30am
UPDATED: Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 11:34am
NEW ORLEANS, LA — The Coast Guard is reminding the public to exercise safe boating during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The week of July Fourth typically experiences a high number of boaters taking to the water. The Coast Guard advises the public to take responsibility for their safety on the lakes, inland rivers and along the Gulf Coast. Boaters should be aware of, and obey, all federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.
Coast Guard statistics for calendar year 2012 show:
• 4,515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3,000 injuries and approximately $38 million in damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
• Seventy-one percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 85 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
• Only 14 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only nine percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
• Twenty-four children under age 13 lost their lives while boating in 2012. Forty-two percent of children who died in 2012 died from drowning.
• Approximately 17 percent of all loss-of-life cases were the result of boating under the influence.
All boaters should:
• Always wear a life jacket. Since there is little time to reach for stowed vests when accidents occur, wearing one at all times reduces your risk of drowning. Federal law requires you to have a personal floatation device on board for each passenger.
• Have a VHF-FM marine-band radio on board. If you are in distress, you can reach the Coast Guard on marine-band channel 16, the distress channel. The Coast Guard, other rescue agencies and other boaters monitor marine-band radios 24/7, which increases the number of people who can respond. Though cell phones are better than no communication device at all, they tend to have gaps in coverage while on the water and have limited battery life.
• Have a float plan. A float plan is simply letting family family and friends know where you are going and your expected time of return. File a float plan with someone who is not getting underway with you and stick to the plan. If you change plans, contact the person. A float plan assists responders in the search of an overdue boater who may be in distress.
• Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas produced any time a carbon-based fuel, such as gasoline, propane, charcoal, or oil burns. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Sources on your boat include gasoline engines, generators, cooking ranges, and space and water heaters.
"Enjoy the celebration of your Fourth of July boating weekend with family and friends. Please remember to be safe in all activities of this great long weekend," said Capt. David Edwards, chief of incident management for the 8th Coast Guard District. “Also, understand that recreational boating safety is as important as highway safety. You can do this by ensuring that all of your family and friends are safe by having the proper Coast Guard approved equipment on board. Lastly, we remind the public to be especially vigilant when monitoring the progress of children involved with all water activities."