by Bill Callahan
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
The start of traditional Western New York boating season is only weeks away. And the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is reminding boaters to take a boating education course. In 2009, 86 percent of boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received formal boating safety training, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The Coast Guard is looking to reduce boating fatalities and accidents across the nation.
Other findings from the National Transportation Safety Board:
•Over the past 10 years, more than 7,000 boaters have died - about 5,000 of them by drowning.
•In 2009, three-fourths of all fatal boating accidents resulted from the victims drowning; 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.
•Seven out of 10 who drowned were in open motorboats less than 21 feet in length.
The U. S Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 3 has four flotillas here in Western New York that are now conducting boater education courses. Courses include an eight-hour About Boating Safety course, as well as the 13-week Boating Skills and Seamanship course.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary's messages to all boaters are, "You Are in Command, Boat Responsibly." And remember, "Life Jackets Save Lives. They Float You Don't. Wear It!"
If you're new to boating or even an old salt, taking a Safe Boating Course is always a wise and good idea. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary reminds everyone that an educated boater is a safe boater. For a complete list of courses along with times, places, dates and instructors and a contact number to register for the class, visit www.wnyboatsafe.org.