Governor declares May 22 to 28 as National Safe Boating Week

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarists (from left) Joe Cohen, Deborah Heldt Cordone, AUXPA1, and Scott Philben from Florence hold a framed copy of the State of Oregon Safe Boating Week proclamation signed, with state seal, by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. The proclamation and Safe Boating Week help promote safe boating during the beginning of the boating season and all year long. (Photo by Carole Cohen.)

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

May 19, 2021 — FLORENCE—National Safe Boating Week is the official launch of the 2021 North American Safe Boating Campaign. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary wishes to help ensure the public has a safe, secure and enjoyable boating experience this season by bringing attention to important life-saving tips for recreational boaters. 

In May, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed, with seal, an official proclamation declaring May 22 to 28, 2021 to be Oregon Safe Boating Week. 

The Oregon Safe Boating Week proclamation encourages boaters to practice safe boating while enjoying the “many wonderful opportunities for recreational boating in lakes, rivers and the ocean” in Oregon. 

According to the Oregon State Marine Board, there were 27 fatalities on Oregon waters in 2020, the most since 1987. Seven of the 27 victims were wearing life jackets. Recreational boating encompasses both motorized and non-motorized vessels, including paddlecraft such as kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, and others. All these recreational vessels are included in the numbers. 

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics for recreational boating, on average, 600 people die each year in boating related accidents in the United States. Approximately 79 percent of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where instruction was known, 70 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally or state approved boating safety education certificate. 

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

These statistics hit home important boating safety information. 

• Wear a Coast Guard-approved, proper-fitting life jacket at all times while underway. Do not stow it since you may not have time to don it in an emergency. 

• While boating or paddling, always expect the unexpected and be prepared with the proper training and equipment. 

• Take a boating safety class. 

• Use an engine cut-off device on motorized boats. 

• File a float plan. 

• Be aware of weather and water conditions. 

• Be considerate of others and understand boating etiquette and navigations rules. 

• Boat sober – it’s the law.

For more information from the U.S. Coast Guard about safe boating, visit www.uscgboating.org.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other organizations offer boating and paddling classes both online and in person. In Oregon, all boaters who operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower and youths 12 to 15 years old operating a motorboat of any size are required to take an approved boating safety course and apply/carry a boater education card. Youth ages 11 and under cannot operate a motorboat. For more information about boating requirements and laws in Oregon, visit the Oregon State Marine Board online at boat.oregon.gov.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free Vessel Safety Checks (VSCs) for recreational boats and paddlecraft. The courtesy exam is performed at your boat – whether in a slip, at the launch ramp, or in your driveway – by a certified Vessel Examiner, at a mutually-convenient rime, and usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending upon the size of your boat.

Auxiliarists will check to see if you have the necessary equipment to save lives and summon help, and check if your vessel meets current state and federal safety standards. No recreational vessel is too large or too small to be safe and in compliance. If you pass the exam, you will receive a VSC sticker to place on your vessel. 

To request a VSC, contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, the local U.S. Power Squadron or visit cgaux.org.

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