The summer boating season is upon us. And while boating is a time for fun, it’s also a time for care and safety. To help ensure a fun and safe day on the water, there are three things everyone should do.
Take a boating education class.
Knowing the “rules of the road” on the water keeps everyone safe, and provides for a much more enjoyable experience. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that in accidents where the level of operator education is known, 77 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator never received boating education instruction.
Many options are available to take a safe boating class, including courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, or online offerings by the Department of Natural Resources. In Georgia, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1998, must complete a boating education course approved by the DNR before operating a motorized vessel on Georgia state waters.
Always wear a life jacket.
Today’s recreational boater life jackets are lightweight, good looking, colorful, and comfortable to wear. In the past five years, 21 people drowned in Lake Allatoona. None of the victims had on a life jacket.
Nationwide, approximately 700 boating deaths occur each year. Statistics show that approximately 80 percent die by drowning, and approximately 83 percent of the victims do NOT wear life jackets.
Georgia law requires boaters to have one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. Life jackets must be in good condition and of the proper fit for each passenger: small ones for small kids and standard ones for adults.
However, if you find yourself overboard and in the water, it is impossible to grab your life jacket and put it on while struggling to stay afloat. A life jacket works when it is worn at all times. There is a wide variety of life jackets on the market, ranging in price from $10 to $200.
Whatever type you choose, the bottom line is that a life jacket doesn’t work unless you wear it. When a life jacket is worn — nobody mourns.
File a float plan.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. If something should happen, you can’t be rescued if no one knows where to search.
A float plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but it should cover the following points: description of the boat, type, length, color, registration number and name, number of people on board, where you are going, a description of your car that includes its license plate number, and the name of the marina or launch ramp where it is parked.
If that seems like too much, just let someone know when you are leaving, where you are going and when you will return. Leave the float plan with a good friend, a family member, or someone else you can trust to take action if you are overdue.
Everyone wants to have an enjoyable time on the water. A safe boating experience is a fun experience.
– By Greg Fonzeno, Public Education Officer for Flotilla 22 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Boating Safety Courses
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 22 will offer a one-day boating safety class.
The class, called About Boating Safety, covers topics that include:
• Know Your Boat
• Before Getting Underway
• Navigating the Waterways
• Operating Your Vessel Safely
• Legal Requirements
• Boating Emergencies
Individuals who successfully complete the program and exam meet the Georgia boating certification requirements and are awarded certificates and wallet cards. Boaters born after Jan. 1, 1998, must complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety class to legally operate a boat or personal watercraft in the Georgia.
(Only one day needed to complete the course).
• May 5
• June 2
• July 7
• Aug. 4
• Sept. 8
Classes are located at Roberts School Community and Education Center, 4681 School St., Acworth. Fee for program materials is $20 each. Family discounts are available. To register for a class, or to request a gift certificate for someone else, email Greg Fonzeno at firstname.lastname@example.org.