Coast Guard volunteers on Lake Lansing help prepare boaters for water, holiday weekend
Michigan has a high number of registered boaters
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It is National Safe Boating Week and the Coast Guard is making sure people avoid tickets and injuries while they are out on the water.
On Thursday, Coast Guard volunteers took to Lake Lansing to assist boaters in preparing their vessels for the upcoming weekend. Jonathan Ahlbrand, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, said Michigan is one of the states with the biggest number of registered boaters.
Every year, right before the Memorial Day Weekend, Ahlbrand is busy doing boat safety inspections.
“We do it for free,” Ahlbrand said. “We’ll come out to your house or meet you at the boat ramp and go through your boat, make sure you have the right equipment so that you’re legal and safe on the water.”
Ahlbrand said it’s not a requirement but, wearing your lifejacket is recommended. Kids under six, he said, are required to wear one. Another tip - don’t drink and boat.
“Is it legal to actually consume alcoholic beverages and drive a boat? Yes, it is, unlike an automobile, but it is not encouraged,” Ahlbrand said. “And if you are BUI, boating under the influence, then you have the same penalties that a driver has.”
More recently, Ahlbrand said there are new laws to keep in mind as well.
“The use of an emergency cut-off switch.”
He said if you fall off the boat, it will stop the engine. It is now a federal law to wear the cut-off switch while boating on all water in the United States. And according to Ahlbrand, a personal locator beacon is one device you’ll want to keep with you while you’re out on the water. The device is most useful on the Great Lakes, not so much on small inland lakes.
“And if you just call and say help or mayday or whatever it is that you need, if you’re sinking, somebody can come to your rescue,” Ahlbrand said.
He said anyone who hears the call is required to respond to it. However, on Lake Lansing, you can just dial 911 on your phone.
Even on a sunny day, the water could still be cold. Ahlbrand said dressing for the water temperature instead of the air temperature is a good idea.
“And particularly if you’re canoeing or kayaking. Canoes and kayaks make up about 24% of all boating fatalities in the United States.”
According to the Coast Guard, boating safety is especially important on Lake Lansing where boating accidents are statistically more likely to happen due to the high number of people who are out on their boats.
BOAT SAFETY TIPS
- Take a boating safety course
- Keep an eye out on the weather
- Follow navigation rules
- Create and Share a float plan
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