The Coast Guard will join the rest of the nation in observing National Safe Boating Week starting Saturday throughout Alaska to encourage safe boating practices and prevent recreational boating accidents.
National Safe Boating Week is organized by the National Safe Boating Council with many partner agencies in the U.S. and Canada, including the Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons, BoatUS, the American Canoe Association, and local groups to encourage safe boating practices and educate the public timed to coincide with Memorial Day weekend, one of the biggest recreational boating weekends of the year.
The Coast Guard released its 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics Monday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 651 nationwide, the lowest number of boating fatalities on record. The report states alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, with 84 percent of those victims were reportedly not wearing a life jacket. In Alaska there were 22 recreational boating deaths and five injuries reported in 2012.
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water and avoid the consumption of alcohol. The use of life jackets, emergency beacons, flares, float plans and appropriate communications devices are advised for anyone operating watercraft. To ensure compliance with boating safety requirements, Coast Guard Auxiliarists will be offering vessel safety checks and safety classes in many coastal Alaskan towns. For times and locations click here.
“Alaska is a vast and beautiful area but it is wild and unpredictable as well,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “I encourage anyone going out on the water to plan ahead, check the weather, file a float plan and wear their life jacket! Our goal is zero recreational boating fatalities in 2013.”
More information on the importance of boating safety and resources detailing steps that can be taken to minimize risk on the water can be found at http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com and http://www.uscgboating.org.