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Press Release | July 2, 2024

Coast Guard urges safe boating during Fourth of July weekend

PHILADELPHIA — Coast Guard and local law enforcement crews throughout the Delaware Bay area will increase boating safety patrols during the Fourth of July weekend in support of Operation Dry Water, a nationwide effort to enforce boating under the influence (BUI) laws.

From Thursday through Saturday, boaters can expect an increased presence from the Coast Guard and local law enforcement on the water, who will be paying particular attention to recreational boating safety this weekend. The increased presence will include dockside safety equipment inspections along with boating safety boardings.

"Independence Day celebrations should be enjoyed in a safe and responsible way," said Cmdr. Lee Gorlin, Response Department Head, Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. "As part of Operation Dry Water, there will be an increase throughout Delaware Bay to enforce BUI laws and ensure a safe boating experience for everyone out on the water. Wearing a life jacket, filing a float plan, and limiting alcohol consumption are simple precautions that can make a significant difference in boating safety."

The 2023 Operation Dry Water campaign involved 488 agencies nationwide, with 7,768 officers making contact with 103,602 vessels and 302,146 boaters. These engagements resulted in 10,088 citations and 717 BUIs, with Fifth Coast Guard District playing a crucial role in that. Alcohol use is the lead contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for the largest percentage reported fatalities.

Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a national year-round campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence. The mission of ODW is to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water. Penalties for violating BUI laws include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

The Coast Guard offers the following tips to help you enjoy a safe time on the water:

● Wear a life jacket. Make sure that there is at least one properly fitted life jacket for every passenger and that the life jackets are readily accessible if not worn. All children under 13 must always wear a life jacket.

● Don’t drink and boat. Aside from wearing a life jacket, not drinking and boating is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating

vessels under the influence of alcohol, drugs or impairing medication pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard.

● File a float plan. Before you get underway, leave information about your trip with a family member or a friend on shore. Include information that would help rescuers in case of an emergency—how many people are on board, where you are going, how long you will be out, and a description of your boat.

● Inspect your boat and equipment. Make sure your navigation equipment—particularly your navigational lights, if you plan to be out at night—is in good working order. Carry fire extinguishers, a first aid kit, charts of the area and an anchor. Get a free safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary to make sure you have all the gear and safety equipment required by your state and federal laws.

● Equip your boat with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). An EPIRB is a safety device that automatically transmits an emergency signal when it is placed or floating in an upright position. The signal allows the Coast Guard and other agencies to pinpoint your location.

● Carry a portable weatherproof marine band radio. Cell phones may go out of range or lose battery power when needed most. The Coast Guard, other agencies, and other boaters monitor marine band radios, increasing the number of people who can respond if you’re in trouble.

● Take a boating safety course. Approximately 80 percent of boating deaths occur on boats where the operator had no formal boating safety instruction. The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters take a safety class and a refresher every five years. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers low-cost boating safety courses.

● Check the weather. Check daily weather reports or listen to a marine band radio for sudden changes in weather conditions.

– USCG –