“Paddling continues to be the fastest-growing segment of recreational boating,” said Frank Jennings Jr., the 9th District’s recreational boating and water safety program manager. “The continuing concern about the economy, coupled with the modest entry-level cost of paddlecraft, has sustained the surge in the popularity of this sport.”
In 2010, Coast Guard boating safety statistics indicate 237 paddlers either died or were injured while paddling on our nation’s waters. Of those, 141 died from drowning and 13 died from other causes.
“Recreational boating and paddlesports are fantastic ways to enjoy the beauty of the Great Lakes, but there are real risks involved with pursuing those activities on the unpredictable waterways throughout this region,” said Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the 9th District. “With so many new paddlers taking to the water, with little or no awareness of required or recommended safety equipment or an appreciation of safe paddling practices, we’ve made it our mission to help them get more enjoyment out of their sport by making them smart on what keeps them safe.”
During the campaign, Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel — along with participating federal, state and local partners — will be passing out safety and education information and offering paddlers an opportunity to take the “Paddles Up Great Lakes” pledge, committing to safe paddling practices.
Self-adhesive paddlecraft ID stickers will also be distributed. These ID stickers allow owners of canoes and kayaks to write down their contact information and attach it to their craft. In the event a paddlecraft is found empty and adrift on the water, the contact information will aid marine patrol and rescue personnel in quickly locating the owner to determine whether or not they are actually lost or in distress.
If not available locally, paddlecraft ID stickers can also be obtained from the 9th Coast Guard District Auxiliary and Boating Safety Branch by e-mailing a request to Frank.T.Jennings@uscg.mil.
For boating safety tips, visit www.uscgboating.org/index.aspx. For Coast Guard Auxiliary course information, visit www.cgaux.org/boatinged/.