SEATTLE, Wash. - The 13th Coast Guard District reminds beachgoers and boaters of the importance of water safety during the summer holidays and all year-round.
Swimmers have been taking advantage of the warm weather by taking to the waves from the shores of Washington and Oregon. The Coast Guard has been experiencing a higher volume of beach-related search and rescue cases, with strong, unpredictable rip currents to blame.
Last weekend alone, local Coast Guard units received 14 reports of swimmers being pulled out to sea by rip currents. Unfortunately, two of those cases resulted in the victims drowning.
While the ocean may be warm enough to swim in, current water temperatures can still cause a loss of body heat and mild hypothermia. Even experienced swimmers can lose motor function and become easily exhausted after just a few minutes of immersion.
Of course, boaters have been out enjoying the warm weather as well.
One of the most important actions members of the public can take to reduce boating injuries and fatalities is to always wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard estimates that more than 80 percent of boating fatalities could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing life jackets.
All states have regulations regarding life jacket use by children.
Tips for swimming safely:
More tips can be found at the United States Lifesaving Association website, www.usla.org.
Some other important reminders:
- Never operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To take the pledge to boat sober, visit www.operationdrywater.org.
- Always leave a float plan with a family member or friend on land. A float plan is an invaluable resource for emergency responders attempting to locate a distressed vessel. To download a free, blank float plan, visit www.floatplancentral.org.
- Invest in a marine band radio for on board your vessel. VHF-FM radios are more reliable than cell phones and have the ability to alert nearby boaters who may be able to assist in an emergency.
Additional safety tips can be found at www.uscgboating.org.