Safe Boating Week
Alaska’s vast waterways offer a myriad of outdoor recreational opportunities, from kayaking and sport fishing to river rafting and boating. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety while enjoying these activities. Unfortunately, Alaska also bears the highest rate of boating fatalities in the nation, often resulting from accidents where individuals were not wearing life jackets. In an effort to promote water safety and reduce preventable accidents, Governor Mike Dunleavy has proclaimed May 20-26, 2023, as Safe Boating Week in Alaska. This proclamation serves as a reminder for all Alaskans to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions when venturing out onto the water.
The Importance of Life Jackets:
The statistics speak for themselves – the majority of boating accidents in Alaska involve individuals who were not wearing life jackets. The sudden cold water immersion in the state’s icy waters increases the risk of drowning, regardless of swimming ability. Safe Boating Week highlights the significance of wearing properly-fitted life jackets at all times while on an open boat or deck, ensuring maximum safety and reducing the chances of a tragic accident.
Being Rescue Ready:
To enhance boating safety, every operator and passenger must adopt a “Rescue Ready” mindset. This involves reviewing safety measures before every outing, checking on the availability and functionality of safety gear before departing from the dock, and avoiding alcohol or other substances that impair judgment and the ability to operate a vessel safely. By prioritizing these practices, Alaskans can greatly reduce the potential for loss of life and property damage on the state’s waterways.
Essential Safety Measures:
Safe Boating Week serves as an opportunity to emphasize the fundamental safety measures that every boater should undertake. These include carrying emergency communication and distress signaling devices, such as radios or flares, that can aid in obtaining help quickly in case of an emergency. Additionally, engine cutoff practices should be employed to prevent accidents caused by runaway vessels. By adhering to these guidelines, boaters can ensure their safety and the safety of others on the water.
Pledging for Safety:
As part of Safe Boating Week, Governor Dunleavy encourages all Alaskans to take a pledge to prioritize water safety. This includes wearing a life jacket, carrying essential safety equipment, practicing engine cutoff measures, and abstaining from alcohol or other impairing substances while on the water. By making this commitment, individuals can contribute to a safer boating environment and help reduce the number of preventable accidents in Alaska.