Coast Guard urges boating preparedness as summer nears

(Brian Yocono/ WPRI)

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – As the weather warms up, the Coast Guard is preparing for another busy season out on the water.

Coast Guard personnel held an open house at their Castle Hill station Saturday morning, offering the public the chance to meet them and get some tips on summer boating safety.

The number one piece of advice from the Coast Guard is to always wear a life jacket when out on the water – if an emergency occurs, there may not be time to retrieve one from storage and put it on.

But making sure people know your plans when you’re out on the water could be a big help if an emergency does occur.

“Make sure someone knows – your spouse, your neighbor, whomever – your favorite fishing spot,” Petty Officer Nicole Groll said. “Because if you don’t come back on time and that person gets worried and they call the Coast Guard, we need some place to start.”

The open house marked the beginning of Safe Boating Week, a national event aimed at promoting safe boating. According to the Coast Guard, there were 626 boating fatalities across the nation last year, the third-lowest yearly total on record. New England saw its number of boating fatalities fall from 47 to 34; of the 34 who died in boating accidents last year, 30 drowned and 32 of them were not wearing life jackets.

Petty Officer Groll said that boaters can contact the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for a checklist of safety items that they should have aboard; the USCG Auxiliary also offers boating safety courses and free safety checks.

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