Coast Guard's water safety reminders ahead of holiday weekend

NOW: Coast Guard’s water safety reminders ahead of holiday weekend


ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- As we head into Independence Day weekend, it’s important to practice safety with fireworks, alcohol and on the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard says one of the main contributors to boating accidents is operator inexperience.

They recommend that every vessel is operated by someone with boating skills and to avoid operating in high water or areas you’re not familiar with. Plus, you should always have a proper lookout.

“The Coast Guard’s major concern for this weekend, the Fourth of July, is to make sure that every vessel that is operating in the area has enough life jackets for every occupant on board and that those life jackets are sized appropriately for the wearer that’s going to be using them. So obviously if you’re a child, you’re not going to have them wear a life jacket that fits an adult,” said BM1 Matthew Binns, Executive Petty Officer at U.S. Coast Guard Station St. Joseph.

While we can expect a warm and sunny holiday, the hot temperatures also come with increased risks.

It’s important to remember the impact alcohol can have in this type of heat and that the water is usually far colder than you’d expect.

For those operating a boat, the legal alcohol limit is .10. If the operator or person navigating the vessel blows over that threshold, they can be cited.

Last Fourth of July weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard issued over 9,000 citations and removed over 500 impaired operators.

And if you’re jumping into the water to cool off, just because it’s hot out doesn’t mean the water temperature is high.

“The Coast Guard defines anything equal to or less than 77 degrees water temperature is cold water,” said Binns. “So one of the main issues with that is if you were to jump into the water and have that gasp reflex, that’s from the cold water and that’s one of the major issues contributing to drowning.”

Alcohol remains the leading cause of recreational boating deaths, so the Coast Guard urges people to drink responsibly.

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