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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 14, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Life jackets shouldn’t be overlooked when out on the water

As we headed to my son’s middle school regional wrestling championships on Sunday morning, I noticed the bright orange Coast Guard helicopter hovering over the eastern side of Lake Washington as it searched for the recovery of a missing kayaker and had a mini lecture with my two boys about the safety of life jackets for any on water activity.

The night before I had heard this kayaker who is missing wasn’t wearing his life jacket, and it simply could have been something that saved his life on this stormy and windy winter day.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to always wear their life jackets, and to ensure that all required safety equipment is onboard their vessel and in good, working order.

A high percentage (somewhere about 80 percent) of all boaters and paddlers who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Here are some tips from the Coast Guard before heading out on the water:

Wear Coast Guard approved life jackets.

Be aware of weather and water conditions.

Never boat or paddle alone.

File a float plan to let others know where you are going, and make sure they know what to do and who to call in case of an emergency.

Be constantly aware of other vessels in the immediate area .

Be cautious — do not exceed your ability to handle your vessel .

Carry a VHF radio — these radios allow for any boater in your vicinity to hear your call and the signal can be easily traced by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters and paddlers take every opportunity to take a recreational boating safety course to enhance their navigational skills.

Courses are offered through their respective state, with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Web site.

Additional course information is available through the BOAT/U.S. foundation at 800-336-BOAT.

For additional safe boating tips, boaters can access the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Web site.

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