Sunday, March 21, 2010

Coast Guard Emphasizes Boating Safety During Chinook Fishing Season

The Coast Guard is urging boaters to make safety their top priority during the Chinook fishing season.

An increased number of boaters are anticipated on the Columbia River in the coming weeks due to the predicted record spring Chinook run.

The Coast Guard is encouraging all boaters to use a common sense approach and a know-before-you-go attitude before and during recreational boating. Life jackets, radios, navigation equipment and weather forecasts are necessary preparations whenever you venture in the rivers. Have your vessel inspected by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, file a float plan, and ensure you and your passengers are familiar with all safety equipment. And most importantly wear your life jacket.

Life Jackets: Life jackets save lives! Statistics show that a person's chance of survival greatly improves when wearing a life jacket. All children under the age of 12 and who weigh less than 90 pounds are required to wear a life jacket at all times while boating. Before boating, be sure that all life jackets are in good shape, fit properly, and are stowed in an easily accessible location. In 2008, two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

File a float plan and leave it with someone who is not recreating on the water. A float plan is a lifesaving device on paper and can assist emergency responders with locating a distressed mariner. Have a registered 406MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

STAY SOBER! : Operating a boat under the influence of intoxicants is illegal and dangerous. Operating a vessel under the influence does not only put the passengers on the vessel at risk, it puts everyone else on the river at risk also. Check with state boating regulations for specific guidelines.

Have a Marine Radio: Investing in a good marine radio is a very smart purchase. Cell phones should never be used as the primary form of communication on a vessel. The reception in some areas of the river may be poor or non-existent and precious time could be lost if an emergency does arise. A marine radio has many advantages such as a strong signal and channels reserved for distress calls. Distress calls are received by everyone monitoring a VHF radio in range, allowing for a quick response in cases of emergency.

Situational Awareness: The Coast Guard is reminding all boaters and waterway users to be aware of your surroundings at all times. It is important to know the limitations of your vessel. Parents should always keep a watchful eye on their children at all times. Many vessels are expected to be on the water during the coming days and weeks, being aware of all things around you is important for your safety.

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