Safe operating

A crewmember stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro fires off a signal flare during training while transiting to Hawaii, Mar. 5, 2017. All boat crew members are required to know the safe operating procedures for emergency signaling devices. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Pedro Sullivan.

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard is reminding boaters and other waterway users in the Pacific Northwest area to be safe and cautious during the expected busy Fourth of July weekend.

To ensure the safety of those that use the various waterways in the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Columbia and Willamette Rivers for commercial and recreational purposes, Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel will be conducting routine patrols during the weekend.

Commercial vessel traffic is anticipated all weekend so recreational boaters are advised to remain aware of shipping lanes and be aware of the rules about sharing the waterway. Boaters are also encouraged to keep an eye out for hazards and report anything suspicious to the Coast Guard or local authorities.

Boaters are required to render assistance to those around them if they are reasonably able to do so without causing more harm.

Due to the expected increase of vessel traffic on the water during the 4th of July weekend, the Coast Guard is emphasizing the importance of safe boating practices for all those who take to the water.

A few tips to remember:

· Avoid alcohol while operating a boat because it is against the law and creates safety concerns – the use of alcohol on the water especially during warmer weather can influence the body and mind quicker than normal

· Do not use flares as fireworks

· Inspect your flares and ensure that they are not expired

· Ensure that all of your safety gear including lights and sound and signaling devices are in proper working order

· Ensure that every person on your vessel is wearing a life jacket that fits properly and is Coast Guard-approved

· Have a properly working VHF-radio with Channel 16 capabilities

· Carry a GPS unit onboard or, at a minimum, maintain knowledge of local waters

· Know your location at all times to help expedite the Coast Guard's response in an emergency

· Ensure that your vessel is seaworthy

· File a float plan with a friend to include an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading

· Boaters are also reminded to not overload their boat with passengers. Excess passengers onboard a vessel may cause the boat to be unstable in the water and increase the risk of capsizing

For more information about safe boating and boating regulations, download the Coast Guard application on your mobile device or visit: http://uscgboating.org/.

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