Boating safety begins on shore
The warmer weather means New Jersey’s waterways are getting crowded, and if history is any indication, there will be dozens of accidents on the water this summer, along with a handful of casualties.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, there were 111 accidents and three deaths in New Jersey last year, a product of nearly 153,000 registered vessels on the water.
Accidents and deaths both declined from 2013 to 2014 in New Jersey, but the same can’t be said nationally. Deaths jumped by nearly 9 percent over the same time period. The total number of accidents edged slightly up from 4,062 to 4,064.
Nick Ameen of the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed in Atlantic City, said New Jersey sees “a lot of boaters” during the peak season, and safety recommendations start on shore.
“Get a vessel safety exam,” Ameen said. “It’s free through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.”
The exam is designed to let boaters know what fixes should be made prior to hitting the water. There are no consequences for a boat’s poor condition. Exams can be scheduled through the Guard’s web site.
On the water, the Coast Guard recommends that each boat have a VHF radio on board for communication. Also, everyone is encouraged to wear a lifejacket.
“If you find yourself in a boating emergency, trying to put on that lifejacket during that emergency is kind of like trying to put on a seat belt during a car accident,” Ameen said.
A new boating safety app was released by the Coast Guard on May 16. It allows boaters to share float plans, check on the latest weather reports from the closest buoys and report suspicious activity.
Get the app: