Coast Guard encourages boating safety during Labor Day weekend in Alaska

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Rielly, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Juneau, Alaska, shares tips for safe boating during the LaborDay weekend at the station pier Aug. 28, 2013.  U.S. Coast Guard Video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant Devyust.


JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard anticipates an increased number of recreational boaters throughout Alaska during Labor Day weekend and is urging boaters to take proper safety precautions while on the water.

Here are four steps every boater can take to reduce the risk of accidents, prevent serious injuries and ensure a safe and enjoyable weekend:

Boaters should always wear a lifejacket. The number one cause of boating fatalities is drowning, most often by sudden, unexpected entry into the water. Wearing a lifejacket increases the chances of surviving a boating accident. The law states you must have a life jacket, or personal floatation device, for every person aboard. The Coast Guard recommends boaters wear lifejackets at all times. In Alaska children 13 years of age and younger are required to wear a lifejacket when on the water and no tin an enclosed cabin.

Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs affect judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Alcohol, combined with boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerate an operator’s impairment. Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and fines up to $10,000. The legal definition of intoxication in Alaska is a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

File a float plan and leave it with someone at home. A float plan gives a description of your vessel, says where you are going and when you plan on returning, which helps emergency responders locate distressed mariners. CLICK HERE for more information on float plans.

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to have a reliable means of signaling rescuers onboard their vessels in case of emergency. Recommended devices include VHF-FM marine band radios, emergency position indicating radio beacons and signal flares. CLICK HERE to learn more about registering your EPIRB or PLB. CLICK HERE for more information on visual distress signals.

“Boaters, personal watercraft operators and kayakers need to be aware of their surroundings and are reminded to continuously monitor weather forecasts,” said David Borg, boating safety coordinator, Coast Guard 17th District.  “Weather and water conditions can change instantaneously and rapidly forming fog, strong currents, wind and tide changes can create hazardous conditions for boaters.”

Boaters can also visit the Coast Guard’s boating safety website at for more information on tips, free courses and safety checks offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.