Boat safely this holiday weekend

(Safe Boating Campaign/US Coast Guard press release) The July 4th holiday weekend is associated with boating and drinking. The Safe Boating Campaign and the U.S. Coast Guard are reminding boaters to boat sober during the holiday weekend to avoid deadly accidents. 

The side effects of alcohol or drug use, such as impaired judgment, reduced balance and poor coordination, are magnified while boating, due to environmental conditions from the sun, wind and boat motion. 

Additionally, as COVID-19 continues to spread, the National Safe Boating Council is recommending boaters follow local guidance for social distancing and outdoor recreation. 

The Safe Boating Campaign offers these safety tips for boating and social distancing:

  • Follow state and local guidance for outdoor recreation.
  • Share a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, navigation light, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit.
  • Limit the people aboard your boat to people within your immediate household.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your house.
  •  Maintain safe distance at the fuel dock or loading up at the marina.
  • Wash hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer, especially after touching a marina gate or fuel pump.
  • Don’t raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to someone else as it puts you in closer proximity with others.
  • Go right from your house to the boat and back so that you don’t have unnecessary contact with anyone.
  • Pack food, water and other things you may need as restaurants and marina stores may not be open.
  • Never boat under the influence.
  • Do not boat distracted and travel at safe speeds.
  • Have more than one communication device that works when wet.

The Safe Boating Campaign, a worldwide effort focused on responsible boating, reminds boaters to boat sober this Fourth of July. Boating under the influence, or BUI, is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The July 4 holiday is around the corner, and unfortunately has become known for drinking and boating, and deadly accidents,” said Peg Phillips, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, and lead organization for the Safe Boating Campaign.

“Operating a boat – or even being a passenger – is incredibly risky while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” continued Phillips. “Drunken passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, lean over the side, or stand up in small boats causing the boat to capsize.”

The side effects of alcohol or drug use, such as impaired judgment, reduced balance and poor coordination, are magnified while boating, due to environmental conditions from the sun, wind and boat motion.

“Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters, since most have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council. “Boaters should also always wear a life jacket, similar to wearing a seat belt when you’re in a vehicle.”

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, a partner of the Safe Boating Campaign, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies nationwide, is coordinating the annual Operation Dry Water three-day weekend. This heightened BUI awareness and enforcement effort will be held from July 3 to July 5 in every U.S. state and territory.

Since the inception of the Operation Dry Water Campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed 4,095 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with over 1.5 million boaters during the annual three-day weekend.

The Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information and to follow the campaign on social media, please visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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