National Safe Boating Week runs Saturday, May 16, through Friday, May 22. It’s the annual reminder to encourage recreational boaters to embrace safety all year long. However, the usual recommendation urging lifejacket wear is now joined by an equally important 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 offers boat storage facilities such as marinas, dealers and boat clubs the download Communicate Safe Boating to Your Customers, with tips for arriving at a marina, launching, storing, and returning to the dock.
- Your lifejacket will save you. If there’s one action a boater can easily take to dramatically increase safety aboard, it’s wearing his/her lifejacket more often. According to US Coast Guard statistics, approximately 84% of those who drowned were not wearing one. “The best lifejacket is the one you will wear,” says Edmonston. “Inflatable lifejackets are light, comfortable, keep you cool on a hot day, and are easily worn because you forget you are wearing one.” Boaters need to have a properly-sized US Coast Guard-approved lifejacket for every person aboard, and can borrow a child’s lifejacket for free at over 575 BoatUS Life Jacket Loaner Program sites.
For more information on National Safe Boating Week, go to safeboatingcampaign.com.