NEW ORLEANS — Over the course of the past week, the Coast Guard responded to multiple cases along the Gulf of Mexico where people in distress were not wearing lifejackets.
Life Jackets should be used with any activity on the water, whether it's done with a paddle, motor or a sail. Using a properly fitted life jacket increases survivability in an accident, which gives rescuers more time to locate a victim.
Accidents can result in a number of injuries which prevent a person in the water from swimming. Wearing a properly fitted life jacket will keep a victim above water regardless if they are conscious or have suffered debilitating injuries.
The 8th Coast Guard District strongly encourages people to not only wear a lifejacket on the water, but have the following safety equipment onboard their vessels: life jackets for everyone aboard, a noise making device such as a horn, visual distress signals such as flares or a signal mirror and a fire extinguisher.
The following are safety tips for boaters prior to leaving the dock:
- Never boat under the influence. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor of all fatal boating accidents. It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is strongly discouraged.
- Always wear a life jacket. A life jacket is required for each person aboard a vessel, sized accordingly and easily accessible. Children younger than 13 years old are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
- Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.
- In the event of an emergency the Coast Guard can be reached on VHF-FM 16.
- Have a Vessel Safety Check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks and can be reached at www.cgaux.org. A vessel safety check is the best possible way to learn about potential violations of state and federal requirements. Most importantly, these quick exams can keep your boat and passengers out of harm’s way.
- Boaters should be aware of, and obey, all federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.