PORTSMOUTH, VA. – Who says wintertime can’t still be all about boating? The more than 78 million boating enthusiasts who take to the water each year may not be able to head out for a day of fun under the sun, but they can “launch” preparations for next year’s boating season by taking advantage of off-season sales and holiday blowouts for that all-important safety gear. Marine and other retail stores everywhere are gearing up for the holiday season by stocking their shelves with what are sure to be a boat lover’s favorite stocking stuffers.
Some safety items the U.S. Coast Guard hopes all boating enthusiasts “deck the hulls” with this year include:
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in every color and style, and customized for every water-related activity
- Rescue flares designed to operate in a marine setting
- A multitude of whistles, horns, and other sound-producing devices
- Fire extinguishers and mounting brackets
- Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs)
“The holidays are a great time to consider the safety items that you need for next year’s boating season, “says Dennis Sens, Boating Safety Specialist at the Coast Guard’s Fifth District Office. “With more than 1.5 million registered boats in the mid-Atlantic region that are out on the water annually, safety issues are more critical than ever.”
Thanks to modern technology, continues Sens, boating safety gear now features many advancements that make implementing safety precautions easier than ever. One such item, EPIRBs, or emergency position-indicating radio beacons, are fast becoming boating staples as they help the U.S. Coast Guard locate an off-shore vessel should it become distressed. With a price-tag of $600-$1500, this item, at holiday discounted rates, is a premium gift for the recreational boater and boating sportsman.
While shopping for gift ideas related to boating gear, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that shoppers consider the many items required by the U.S. Coast Guard to pass a yearly Vessel Safety Check (VSC). This checklist includes the accurate number of life jackets (as indicated by boat size), a fire extinguisher, sound-producing devices, and visual distress signals. For boaters who may have children onboard, it is especially important to make sure that last season’s life jackets are still a good fit. All life jackets should bear the U.S. Coast Guard-approved label.
For the hard-to-buy-for boater, the U.S. Coast Guard reminds shoppers of the innovative and unordinary gifts that would exceed any boater’s wish list. Specialty items that will keep boaters safe and the talk of the marina include:
- Life jackets with built-in lumbar support
- First Aid kits in unique packaging specifically for the marine environment
- Futuristic gas-leak and carbon monoxide detectors that will sound an alarm if levels are too high
- Compasses that will guarantee your boater can find his or her way back home
- A variety of signal flags tailored to your boater’s activity of choice (water-skiing, diving, etc.) to alert other boaters in the area, or draw attention to a boat in distress
Other unique gift ideas include cell phone-protector cases to ensure that cell phones stay operational even if they end up in the water, life jacket lights and signals to help others locate boaters in the water, water-proof VHF marine radios, and Safety lanyards that shut down the engine in case of a fall overboard.The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include always wear a life jacket and require passengers to do the same; never boat under the influence (BUI); successfully complete a boating safety course; and get a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons®, or your state boating agency’s vessel examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters, "You're in Command. Boat Responsibly!"
For more information on boating responsibly, go to www.USCGboating.org or call the U.S. Coast Guard Infoline at1-800-368-5647.