NOAA, National Safe Boating Council promote National Safe Boating Week
Boating tragedy survivor Nick Schuyler warns of hypothermia danger
NOAA’s National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) have partnered again to encourage recreational boaters to know their risks, learn the rules, and be prepared before taking the helm this summer during National Safe Boating Week: May 19 to 25.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were more than 4,000 boating accidents, including 758 deaths, in 2011. Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket. Once in the water hypothermia can become a significant threat to survival even if wearing a life jacket.
To increase awareness about the dangers of hypothermia, the NSBC and NOAA have enlisted assistance from former college football player and boating tragedy survivor Nick Schuyler. Schuyler was the lone survivor of a boating accident while fishing off the Florida Gulf coast in February 2009. Interviews with Schuyler are available online and provide lifesaving information about hypothermia as well as the importance of being prepared.
“Before going out on the water, check the marine weather forecast and then stay informed with a NOAA Weather Radio,” said Jack Hayes Ph.D., director, National Weather Service. “We want boaters to be part of our Weather-Ready Nation. Weather can change very quickly on the water. The sudden emergence of dark clouds, increasing winds, torrential downpours and lightning can turn a relaxing time on the water into a dangerous situation.”
NOAA and the NSBC have launched a series of boating safety public service announcements to highlight important boating safety topics, including hypothermia; the importance of always wearing a life jacket; distress radio beacons; winds and waves, thunderstorm safety; understanding your marine forecast; and boating under the influence.
The NSBC administers the North American Safe Boating Campaign “Wear It!” designed to educate boaters about the importance of life jacket wear while introducing them to the different styles that are available, including inflatable life jackets. “Wear It!” is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Lives can be saved by improving the knowledge and skills of recreational boaters,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director, NSBC. “Boaters can have fun and stay safe by wearing a life jacket, having the proper equipment onboard, knowing what the weather conditions will be, and abstaining from alcohol while boating.”
NOAA and the NSBC encourage recreational boaters to prepare before they go out on the water by following these guidelines:
• Know your risk: Have an understanding of the body of water you want to boat in. Learn the rules of boating before taking the helm by taking a safe boating course. Check the marine weather forecast before going out on the water. The weather can change quickly, so plan for all types of weather hazards.
• Be prepared: Make sure your vessel has the required equipment such as life jackets, a first aid kit, and distress signals. Develop an emergency plan with more than one way to get your boat out of trouble. Create a float plan and tell a friend of your whereabouts and when you plan to return. Obtain and pay attention to NOAA Weather Radio and understand marine watches, warnings and advisories.
• Be an example: Share with your friends, family, co-workers, and your social media network safe boating tips, such as the importance of wearing a life jacket and taking a safe boating course. The information you share might just save their lives, too.
NOAA, through its National Weather Service, is dedicated to supplying the most up-to-date and accurate weather information throughout the U.S. coast, coastal and offshore waters, the Great Lakes, and the open oceans. NOAA’s National Ocean Service provides the navigation services that protect lives, strengthen the maritime economy, and position America for the future. Download NOAA’s free nautical charts BookletCharts today.
About the National Safe Boating Council
The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) is the foremost coalition for the advancement and promotion of safer boating through education, outreach, and training. The NSBC accomplishes this mission by promoting outreach and research initiatives that support boating education and safety awareness; improving the professional development of boating safety educators through training; and developing and recognizing outstanding boating safety programs. To learn more about the NSBC and its programs, visit www.SafeBoatingCouncil.org.