WASHINGTON - Memorial Day weekend typically heralds the beginning of the recreational boating season in many parts of the country. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is teaming up with other boating safety organizations to take the boating safety message to the public.
The week of May 21-27 leading up to Memorial Day has been designated National Safe Boating Week with the emphasis on wearing life jackets and saving lives.
In 2009, the Coast Guard counted 4730 recreational boating accidents involving 736 deaths, 3358 injuries and approximately $36 million dollars of property damage. Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.
"National Safe Boating Week gives us an opportunity to reflect on the safe operation of boats on the water. The incidents we study bring home the need for simple safety precautions while underway," said Coast Guard Auxiliary National Commodore Jim Vass.
"We encourage everyone to wear their life jackets and use a 'kill switch' while boating. Frequently we see young children in life jackets, but their parents are not wearing them. All of us need to wear a life jacket to protect ourselves and set a good example for others. I wish the boaters of America a safe boating season," Vass said.
Coast Guard Auxiliary flotillas around the country will be hosting special events to reinforce the safe boating message during NSBW including free vessel safety checks at local marinas, boating safety classes, and other special events. Check your local newspaper for NSBW events near you.