By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Boating safety is on the mind of area agencies hoping to keep the boating public safe during the upcoming season.
“In Ashtabula County we have (more than) 5,000 registered boaters,” said U.S Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Bill Campbell of the 5,195 boaters on the books in 2011. He said early season preparation is essential to maintain safe operation of boats.
A variety of local, state and federal organizations work together, Campbell said.
“We have a great relationship with Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Division of Watercraft). We are pleased to have them right across the river,” he said.
Everything from daily phone conversations to coordinating patrols, Campbell said of the cooperative relationship.
Campbell said the U.S. Coast Guard has been busy working with area marinas, schools and other organizations in preparation for the season
He said 758 boaters died in boating accidents in 2011 and the U.S. Coast Guard is emphasizing the importance of wearing life jackets.
“All recreation vessels must have one wearable life jacket for each person on board,” Campbell said.
Another early season boating mistake is to forget the change in temperatures between the air and the water which can be fatal, Campbell said.
Early spring temperatures can skyrocket into the 80s, but the water is still in the 50s, Campbell said. He said hypothermia can easily set in with the water temperature so low.
Campbell suggests all boaters leave a “float plan” with a family member or friend so a boater may be found quickly. He said it is important for boaters to give an approximate boating location, a time of return and other important details.
“It takes the search out of the search and rescue,” Campbell said of the plan.
He also urged boaters to refrain from consuming alcohol while operating the boat. He said 16 percent of boating fatalities come from alcohol related incidents.