Coast Guard emphasizes boating safety this week

Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009

As winter relinquishes its grasp from icy Alaska waters, the U.S. Coast Guard is encouraging boaters to brush up on their safety practices as part of the ongoing National Safe Boating Week.

Lt. Michael Franklin, with the Coast Guard in Kenai, said he encourages any water bound adventurers to visit for more safety related information, checklists, tips, videos and games.

Franklin had a few key messages he hoped boaters would take away from the week. First and foremost was making sure to always wear a life jacket.

"A life jacket doesn't do any good under the seat," he said.

He also wanted to remind boaters that children 13 and under are required by state law to wear a life jacket at all times when under way in an open boat.

He also encouraged boat owners to get their vessels inspected once a year.

He recommended boaters visit, where they can click on the "I want a VSC" tab, enter their zip code, and get the contact information for the nearest Coast Guard Auxiliary official to set up a safety check.

Franklin said the auxiliary officials offer a second set of eyes trained to spot issues with a boat and its equipment.

He also said before they hit the water, boaters should file a float plan with their trip information including where they plan to go, when they plan to return and how many people they're with.

They can file these with a harbormaster, or with a family member or reliable friend.

In the event that something goes wrong, someone else will know and can initiate a response.

"(A float plan) is something that can get overlooked, but it's of critical importance to getting rescued in a timely fashion," Franklin said.

While out on the water he wanted to remind boaters to "steer clear of drinking alcohol," and to carry more than one form of communication, such as a cell phone and a VHF radio.

Dante Petri can be reached at

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