Coast Guard reminds people to stay safe on the water this weekend, rest of summer

NOW: Coast Guard reminds people to stay safe on the water this weekend, rest of summer


ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of boating season and the opening of many pools, so the St. Joseph Coast Guard wants to remind people to stay safe as many people head onto the water for the first time in months.

Chief Petty Officer Lazaro Lopez says spending a few minutes reading up on boating and water safety tips could save lives this summer.

“We never plan for an emergency or a disaster,” said Lopez. “Plan for it.”

Lopez says before heading out, people should complete a vessel safety check and research the latest safety regulations.

He also recommends people fill out a float plan. The information can be critical for first responders in an emergency.

Lopez also stresses lifejackets. There should be one for each person on board. Lopez says if a person slips out of a life jacket from the jacket’s shoulders while fastened, then the jacket is too big.

“When they ask, ‘Why do I have to have life jackets?’ or whatever type of safety equipment, and I respond to them, ‘I just want to keep you floating long enough for our first responders to come get there,’” said Lopez. “We have so many resources that can come out and help, but if you don’t have those initial safety equipment to help keep you alive and keep you above water, it’s normally the opposite of a good day for you.”

Lopez adds people should check weather conditions ahead of time. If there’s a chance for severe weather, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends people stay on shore. However, if people do get caught in a storm while on the water, it’s advised they stay inside the boat’s cabin. If there isn’t one, it’s recommended to stay as low as possible.

“When it comes to water safety, it’s an overlooked thing,” said Lopez. “They think it’s a recreational sport, that you’re just going out to have fun, but you don’t think of the safety hazards or some of the hazards that could happen that when on top of the water. So we just want to encourage people to be aware.”

For more information and tips, click here. Lopez also recommends people download the U.S. Coast Guard app.

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