Community Sports

Wearing life jacket key to safe boating season

On Saturday, May 2, the 2015 boating season officially kicks off with Opening Day in Bellingham. Also, May 16-22 is National Safe Boating Week.

On behalf of United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 11 in Bellingham, we want to remind everyone of the importance of wearing life jackets.

The national recreational boating statistics for 2013, show there were more than 4,000 boating accidents, resulting in 560 deaths. Where cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

More information about recreational boating safety is available at

These numbers speak volumes.

Children younger than 12 are required by law to wear life jackets when on boat decks, but adults are only required to have a life jacket accessible. Just having life jackets on the boat is not good enough. People need to wear them when they get underway.

Ironically, national news this week has reported on Coast Guard searches for survivors in Mobile, Ala., after a storm toppled sailboats participating in a regatta. As of Tuesday, April 28, the powerful storm had claimed two lives and the Coast Guard was searching for four others.

Sadly, we’ve seen videos of a person attempting to place a life jacket on the person at the helm during the trajedy of, but due to the extreme conditions, the life jacket was blown away.

This just goes to illustrate you shouldn’t wait for the emergency to happen before putting on your life jacket.

Flotilla 11 will have a Recreational Boating Safety Exhibit open from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at Gate 3 of Squalicum Harbor Marina near the Bellingham Yacht Club. Please stop by for information regarding safe boating, get a free vessel safety check and check out what the Coast Guard Auxiliary is all about. We look forward to seeing you!

Remember: Wear it!