Safety in season

Ensign Jessica Stock and Lt. j.g. Victoria Swinghamer, boarding officers from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, conduct a safety inspection in near Whittier, May 23, 2015. Personnel from Sector Anchorage and Station Valdez patrolled the waters near Whittier to enforce safety over the Memorial Day weekend. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Kim Jenish)

Ensign Jessica Stock and Lt. j.g. Victoria Swinghamer, boarding officers from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, conduct a safety inspection in near Whittier, May 23, 2015. Personnel from Sector Anchorage and Station Valdez patrolled the waters near Whittier to enforce safety over the Memorial Day weekend. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Kim Jenish)

In Alaska, many people enjoy spending their summers on the water. In the excitement of the warm weather and summer activities it is important that boaters remember important precautions to ensure their safety on the water. To promote these safety precautions, Coast Guard personnel from Sector Anchorage and Station Valdez visited the local community to educate boaters and conduct safety inspections during Memorial Day weekend.

A Coast Guard Sector Anchorage boarding team joined a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium crew from Station Valdez at a recreational boating port in Prince William Sound to verify boaters had proper safety gear aboard their vessels and that operators were not boating under the influence of alcohol.

As the first major weekend for recreational boating in Alaska, Memorial Day weekend is an ideal time to ensure boaters are starting the summer boating season safely. The boarding team ensured all children were wearing life jackets and boaters had their licenses and registrations.

They also checked to make sure vessels were equipped with the appropriate number of flotation devices, a sound-producing device and an approved fire extinguisher.

Boat crew members from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, and Coast Guard Station Valdez, patrol the waters in Passage Canal near Whittier on a 45-foot response boat-medium, May 22, 2015. The patrols were conducted throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend to promote boating safety. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Victoria Swinghamer)

Boat crew members from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, and Coast Guard Station Valdez, patrol the waters in Passage Canal near Whittier on a 45-foot response boat-medium, May 22, 2015. The patrols were conducted throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend to promote boating safety. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Victoria Swinghamer)

“The most common discrepancies we found were boaters who didn’t keep their boat registration with them and didn’t have a fire extinguisher,” said Ensign Jessica Stock, a boarding officer with Sector Anchorage, “It’s a federal and state requirement to keep registration aboard the boat as well as a fire extinguisher for any vessel with an enclosed space. This past weekend was about education as much as ensuring safety.”

It’s also a federal and state requirement that all children under the age of 13 wear their life jackets at all times while on the water—even if the boat is not underway or if it is tied up at the dock.

“The Coast Guard has conducted boardings out of Whittier for more than four years and, in that time, we’ve seen a huge increase in compliance,” said Ensign Kim Jenish, a boarding officer on scene. “Nearly everyone we checked had their lifejackets and Type IV throwable flotation device. Overall, boaters are extremely knowledgeable about what they are required to carry for their safety. We were really happy to see that.”

“There are different requirements for different bodies of water. What we look for in a narrow body of water like Passage Canal is different than what is required further out in Prince William Sound,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Layton, a boarding officer with Station Valdez. “We advise all boaters to check out the carriage requirements before getting underway. They can also check weather or file a float plan, even call for emergency assistance, if needed.”

The Coast Guard’s new boating safety app, available for iPhone and Android, will help boaters know exactly what they need for their size boat. For more information about the app visit here.

If boaters have any questions about the safety requirements the Coast Guard looks for, they are encouraged to go to www.uscgboating.org before getting underway.

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