TAMPA, Fla. - As boaters hit the water for a long holiday weekend, the Coast Guard is hard at work making sure everyone stays safe.
"With everyone trying to celebrate Memorial Day, that brings a lot of boaters out on the water and with that comes unpredictable situations," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas Jennings with the U.S. Coast Guard.
However, boaters can prepare for those situations. For worst-case scenarios, the Coast Guard recommends having a locator device that will pinpoint your exact location can help make sure rescue can find you quickly.
"This is a personal locator beacon. It’s something you can keep in your pocket out on the water. If you encounter distress, all you have to do is put the antenna up, turn it on and activate the GPS with the antenna up. That will send a signal to the Coast Guard to be able to send us out to come get you," said Jennings.
Petty Officer Jennings also advises new boat captains to take a safety and education class before heading out on the water.
"We definitely recommend a boater safety class. There’s more to it than just getting on a boat and going," said Jennings.
But even for the most experienced captains, remembering the basics is important too.
"Always wear your life jacket," said Jennings. "You want to make sure that it fits snug, but doesn’t restrict movement. You want it zipped up, if it has a zipper, and buckled. It would be good to have a whistle on it too. If you’re in the water you can whistle for help."
The Coast Guard also recommends checking the weather and having proper supplies such as flares and a fire extinguisher.
Boaters can also download the Coast Guard mobile app to have important information at their fingertips such as safe boating information, a place to file a float plan, a way to request a vessel safety check and even call for emergency assistance.
Having a plan and being prepared could make all the difference between a fun holiday on the water or a weekend that ends in disaster.
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