Coast Guard tips to keep you safe while boating - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Coast Guard tips to keep you safe while boating

GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - A perfect day on the water can quickly become dangerous. That's why if you have plans to be on the water this weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard will be out there with you, making sure you follow the rules and stay safe.

National Safe Boating week kicks off May 16, the time when more and more boaters set sail. It's a week-long, annual campaign, dedicated to awareness on the water, with the goal, simply, to save lives.

According to the Coast Guard, life jackets could have saved hundreds of lives over the years. Coast Guard statistics also show, drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of all boating fatalities in 2013. Of those, 84 percent were not wearing their life jackets.

Safe boating week starts with, “Ready, Set, Wear It,” Life Jacket World Record Day. Its a day to stress the importance of being prepared. Last year, the record broke with nearly 7,000 participants. This year, agencies will be out rewarding those wearing life vests, to hopefully set a new record.

The most recent Coast Guard Data ranks South Carolina fourth for boating deaths. The goal is to get that number to zero and keep it there. In order to do so, the Coast Guard urges you have the correct safety equipment on board.

Along with a life vest for every passenger, a sound device - like a whistle to get attention, and a fire extinguisher, agencies will also be checking for a DSC, or digital selective calling radio, so if your boat were to go in any type of distress, this radio will send out a signal that can help them find your exact position.

Before you head out on the water, they recommend you let people know where you're headed and when. All in all, make sure your boat is as prepared as you are, so if you're stopped, you're in the clear.

Safe Boating Week is also a time to reiterate the importance of boating safety courses, knowing navigational rules and never boating under the influence.

“The Coast Guard's biggest thing is education,” said U.S. Coast Guard BM2 Lance Buchanan. “Were not there to hinder you from doing your, having fun with your family. we're there just to educate. If you're missing equipment, our job is to make sure that you get back and get the proper equipment before you come out again.”

To better prepare yourself and put safety in your own hands, you can download the brand new Coast Guard App on your smartphone. 

According to the website, it will be available tomorrow, to coincide with National Safe Boating Week. On the app you can find safety regulations, check your safety equipment and file a float plan. You can also use the app to report a hazard, pollution, or suspicious activity. If you end up in an emergency, the app has an Emergency Assistance button which will call the closest Coast Guard command center.

This app will help prepare you, if you get stopped by the coast guard, and ultimately, to be safe on the water. It will be available tomorrow on both the Apple and Google Play store and the best part is, it's free.

For more information on Safe Boating Week: http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/

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