An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | July 3, 2024

Enjoying Independence Day Weekend Safely: Coast Guard Urges Vigilance on the Water

Coast Guard stock photo

(Coast Guard stock photo)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — As families and friends prepare to celebrate Independence Day along the Mid-Atlantic coast, Coast Guard safety experts issue a vital reminder: while the water promises enjoyment, it demands respect.

"The allure of our beaches, waterways, and open oceans during holiday festivities is undeniable, but so too are the dangers," said Matt Brooks, Fifth Coast Guard District search and rescue program manager. "It's easy to underestimate the risks and overestimate our own abilities, and as we see too often, ignoring safety measures can turn a day of celebration into a tragic event."

Each year across the region, preventable accidents cause injuries and claim lives on the water. Swimming and boating require skills, preparation, and awareness. Understanding the unpredictability of weather and water conditions is crucial. The Mid-Atlantic coastline, though beautiful and enjoyable, is unforgiving and risks are ever-present.

"Risk on or near the water isn't hypothetical — it's a reality," said Brooks. “Being aware, being prepared, and respecting those risks is key to enjoying a safe holiday weekend on the water. 

Take Positive Action

The Coast Guard encourages these proactive steps to reduce risks and ensure safety:

  • Respect the Risks: Acknowledge the range of inherent dangers of water activities and take proactive measures to mitigate them.
  • Swimming Skills: Before taking to the water, ensure everyone has adequate swimming skills.
  • Supervision: Maintain constant supervision of children and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Life Jackets: When boating or paddling, always wear properly fitted and Coast Guard-approved life jackets, especially in rough or moving waters.
  • Learn CPR: Knowing CPR can save lives in emergencies.
  • Weather Awareness: Regularly check weather forecasts and avoid water or shoreline activities during storms or heavy seas.
  • Designated Areas: Swim in designated areas, preferably with lifeguards present.
  • Boating Safety: Follow boating guidelines, carry necessary safety equipment, and avoid distracted boating.
  • Alcohol Effects: Reduce risk by limiting or avoiding alcohol - which impairs judgment, reaction times, and physical function - while swimming, paddling, or operating boats.

 "Individual freedoms and personal responsibility go hand in hand, especially on or near the water. Being mindful of the risks, taking precautions, and playing it safe ensures we can enjoy our freedom while taking care of ourselves and others,” said Brooks.