U.S. Coast Guard 11th District PA Detachment LA/LB
LOS ANGELES — The Coast Guard reminds boaters to exercise caution and safe boating practices within the waters of Southern California, as well as inland rivers and lakes while enjoying the upcoming weekend.
All boaters and beachgoers are encouraged to be aware of boat traffic, prepare for potential hazards, keep advised of weather changes through the National Weather Service, and to monitor VHF-FM channel 16 for the most current safety advisories.
California has the third-largest number of recreational boats in the country and has the second-highest number of boating-related accidents and deaths according to the Coast Guard’s 2019 statistics.
Boating under the influence, or boating while intoxicated, is just as deadly as drinking and driving. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.
Nationwide, 4,791 people were injured or died in boating-related accidents in 2019. Approximately 71 percent drown, and more than 79 percent of those people were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the lead contributing factor in fatal boating accidents accounting for nearly 16 percent of all reported fatalities.
Some other tips to help boaters have a safe and pleasant time on the water include:
- Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are onboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details about your destination, and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.
- Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly and you should keep a watchful eye on the forecasted conditions.
- Have nautical charts of the area you are boating in, a global positioning device, and a reliable means of communication on board your vessel. VHF-radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in the coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.
- Check the Local Notice to Mariners page relevant to your area. It will include vital information pertaining to safe boating and on the water events and activities, boaters should be aware of.
- Wear your life jacket! Approximately 80 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency, there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.
- Boaters can also download the free Coast Guard mobile app to file a float plan, report hazards to navigation, pollution, and suspicious behavior, and to access additional information on boating safety and vessel requirements. The app can be found on iOS and Android market stores or by scanning the QR codes below.
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