Coast Guard observes National Safe Boating Week in Alaska

The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Safe Boating Week campaign is a public outreach effort held annually during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend and is designed to help reduce boating fatalities and accidents.

“Boating safety remains a top priority for the Coast Guard in Alaska,” said Mike Folkerts, Coast Guard 17th District recreational boating safety specialist. “Filing a float plan with friends or family and always carrying a means of communication, preferably a marine VHF radio, helps to ensure the safety of your group enjoying Alaska’s outdoors. And most importantly, be sure to wear your life jackets.”

Here are some lifesaving tips from the Coast Guard:

1. Wear a lifejacket; they save lives. In Alaska, boaters are required to have one Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person aboard their vessel. Persons 13-years-old and younger are required by law to wear a life jacket at all times when in an open boat, on the deck of a boat or when waterskiing.

2. File a float plan before you get underway detailing your trip to aid rescuers in the event you are overdue.

3. Take multiple forms of communication devices and extra batteries and chargers. Always remember VHF-FM radio is the primary communications network for the maritime boating community.

4. Check all required safety equipment to be sure it is in good working order.

5. Check the weather. Be sure to look at the immediate weather forecast as well as the extended forecast; weather can change in Alaska in a matter of hours. Be prepared for it.

6. Dress for the water temperature. Though the air may be warming up, the water is still cold and does not rise above low 50s even at the height of summer.

7. Boat sober. Never boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

8. Consider downloading the USCG Boating Safety app. Features of the app include: state boating information, a safety equipment checklist, free boating safety check requests, navigation rules, float plans and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity.

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