Now that the weather is warm, Coast Guard 9th District units are seeing a high number of boaters, divers, kayakers and beach-goers in and on the water. Last weekend, the Great Lakes Coast Guard responded to more than 100 reports of distress, saving six lives and assisting 133.
The Coast Guard advises the public to take responsibility for their safety on the water. Everyone should be aware of, and obey, all federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.
"We want everyone to enjoy their Fourth of July weekend, but most importantly we want everyone to be safe on the water" said Capt. Michael Mullen, chief of response for the Coast Guard 9th District. "Boating accidents can happen very suddenly and you don't have time to put on a life jacket. Everyone can prepare for the unexpected by wearing life jackets and carrying proper survival equipment and communications."
In an effort to save lives, the Coast Guard recommends the following for all swimmers and boaters:
* Wear a life jacket
* Swim and boat sober. Alcohol use is a major factor in drownings. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.
* Never swim alone. Many drownings involve single swimmers. Learn water rescue techniques you can use if someone you are swimming with is in danger.
* Don't float where you can't swim. Non-swimmers and weak swimmers often use flotation devices, such as inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown.
* Avoid unnecessary risks. Walking along breakwalls is risky because it only takes a momentary loss of footing to invite tragedy. Jumping from breakwalls, waterside structures or into unfamiliar water is extremely dangerous since unseen underwater hazards may exist.
* As a supplemental information source, download the Coast Guard app; it covers a broad scope of boating safety needs, from weather reports from NOAA buoys to an emergency call button.
* Always have a way to call for help other than a cell phone such as a marine radio or emergency positioning indicating beacon.