U.S. Coast Guards reminds boaters of safety precautions amid search for missing boaters

NEW HAVEN --  With the warm weather comes the beginning of boating season.

It’s great weather for Luis Mendes of New Haven who visits the Long Island Sound every day to kayak and has been kayaking for over 20 years.

“I recommend it to anybody,” Mendes said. A lot of people will go to the doctor for stress. This will take your stress away.”

Unfortunately this is also the time of year when the U.S. Coast Guard said it sees more boating accidents.

That’s why they’re reminding boaters to put safety first.

“Check the weather,” said Waterways Management Division Chief of the USCG Sector Long Island Sound New Haven Station, Lieutenant Shannon Andrew. “Tell someone where you’re going.”

“This could change in a second, Medes said. “You could have three, four-foot waves. And wind.”

The U.S. Coast Guard also recommends including contact information on your vessel.

“An ‘If-Found’ sticker is very useful with your contact information and that way if we discover an adrift kayak we can call,” Andrew said.

Within the past several days, the U.S. Coast Guard has been involved in missing persons searchers on the water for two separate incidents.

“It’s sad,” Mendes said. “It’s a sad situation. But to me, people are very irresponsible.”

Andrew said both incidents are examples of why it’s so important to always be wearing a life jacket while on board any vessel.

“If you have it stowed and you flip a kayak, than it does you no good if you’re not wearing it.”

The Coast Guard requires boats to have a life jacket for each person on board.

Life jackets must be: Coast Guard approved; in good and serviceable condition; and the appropriate size for the user.

Boaters also want to make sure they have a flash light and a whistle to send distress signals in the event of an emergency.

The Coast Guard is also reminding boaters to never operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“It is dangerous boating under the influence and we do have patrol men looking out for that,” Andrew said.

Follow these rule and it should be smooth sailing.

“You have to respect, and you have to know what could happen and be ready for it,” Mendes said.

Boating enthusiasts can also download the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety App for helpful information about safety regulations and other tips. Boaters can also use the app to sign up for vessel safety checks.