Message from the U.S. Coast Guard
With recreational boaters preparing their boats to take to the waters of the Pacific Northwest, the 13th Coast Guard District reminds boaters and paddlesport enthusiasts to take the proper precautions.
While air temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper 70s, water temperatures remain the upper 40s. At that temperature, a person that enters the water without the proper protective equipment can become hypothermic, exhausted and lose conciousness in less than 30 minutes.
The Coast Guard also advises mariners to know the weather conditions and dress for the water temperature rather than air temperature. While air temperatures may be rising as the seasons change, the water temperature throughout the Pacific Northwest takes a considerably longer amount of time to reach similar temperatures.
The Coast Guard recommends that boaters wear a life jacket at all times while underway. The law states that you must have a life jacket for every person onboard, but it is much more difficult to locate, access, or don a life jacket at the moment an accident occurs.
A marine band radio is the best way to contact the Coast Guard or marine response agencies if you are in distress on the water. When a Mayday is sent out via VHF-FM radio, it is a broadcast, not just a one-to-one party distress call; any nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance. Channel 16 is the international distress channel and should be used for emergencies only.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron conduct free vessel safety examinations that verify the presence and condition of the safety equipment that is required by state and federal regulations. These courtesy examinations are conducted by trained specialists that give recommendations and provide copies of their evaluations. Upon completion of a successful examination, boaters also receive decals for their vessels that show that they have undergone a vessel safety check.
To find the closest vessel examiner, visit www.safetyseal.net, and click on “I Want a VSC.”
For more boating safety information, visit www.uscgboating.org. To coordinate an interview with a boating safety specialist, contact the 13th District Public Affairs Office at 206-220-7237.