During the week of May 21-27, boaters, marinas and boat educators across the country are focusing on ways to take the stress out of summer. On Lake Lanier, members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and America’s Boating Club are gearing up for the summer season, providing boating safety classes, vessel safety checks and the importance of life jackets as part of National Safe Boating Week.
“Our goal is to encourage boaters to think about safety first,” said Dan Vaccaro, public affairs officer with USCGA Flotilla 29. “Sometimes safety seems to be the last thing people think about when they go boating. They’re excited to get out on the water for the season but putting boat safety first can make the summer more fun.”
Vaccaro recommends that when boaters and their guests first board their vessel, they do a 3- to 5-minute safety briefing.
“Pointing out where the life jackets are kept, making sure that youngsters are wearing them, where the fire extinguisher is and other topics help set the tone for a safe boating experience,” he said. “It’s good to get in the habit of this safety review every time you go boating.”
Both organizations offer free vessel safety checks to ensure that boaters have the required safety equipment and documentation on board. The checks are free and can be conducted in or out of the water.
To begin the week, boaters, swimmers and anglers are asked to “Wear Your Life Jacket To Work Day” on May 20.
“This is an awesome conversation starter with your coworkers and friends,” said T.J. Convery, boating instructor with America’s Boating Club Atlanta. “You can tell them how much you enjoy boating and even relay some fun stories.
“In case you didn’t know it, in Georgia children under the age of 13 are required to wear an appropriately sized personal flotation device on a moving vessel,” he said. “And it’s a good idea for adults to do the same. You never know when you might fall and be injured and a life jacket may just save your life.”
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2020, and that 86 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Photo: by Nan Ellen Fuller