National Safe Boating Week, which begins this Saturday, May 16, and runs through Friday, May 22, is the traditional early boating season reminder to help recreational boaters embrace safety all season long. However, the important National Safe Boating Week recommendation urging life jacket wear is now joined by an equally important boating safety message — how to stay safe during the time of COVID-19.
“While we’re learning new things about the virus almost every day, we don’t anticipate additional safety challenges on the water this year,” said BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water president Chris Edmonston. “We have a responsibility to look out for all of us sharing a launch ramp, marina or boat club dock as well as those assigned to keep us safe on the water or entrusted with the care and maintenance of our boats.”
The BoatUS Foundation offers two National Safe Boating Week tips:
- Do everything you can to social distance: Boats should maintain a 50-foot separation on the water and not raft up; wash your hands and/or use sanitizer frequently; and pack all essentials. Additional tips can be found at the National Safe Boating Council’s CDC-based Tips for Navigating Social Distancing + Boating. The Marine Retailers Association of Americas offers boat storage facilities such as marinas, dealers or boat clubs a downloadable Communicate Safe Boating to Your Customers with tips for arriving at a marina, launching, storing and returning to the dock.
- Your life jacket will save you. If there was one action a boater could easily take to dramatically increase safety aboard, it’s wearing his/her life jacket more often. According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, approximately 84% of those who drowned were not wearing one. “The best life jacket is the one your will wear,” says Edmonston. “Inflatable life jackets are light, comfortable, keep you cool on a hot day, and are easily worn because you forget you are wearing one.” Boaters also need to have a properly sized U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person aboard, and can borrow a child’s life jacket for free at over 575 BoatUS Life Jacket Loaner Program sites.
For more information on National Safe Boating Week, go to safeboatingcampaign.com.