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US Coast Guard explains how to be safe over Memorial Day weekend

by U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast 24 May 18:15 UTC
Coast Guard Station Point Judith conducts tactical boat training on the 29-foot response boat on Oct. 7, 2016, off the coast of Rhode Island. Station Point Judith has 35 members and operates two 47-foot Motor Life Boats and a 29-foot response boat small © Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Groll / U.S. Coast Guard District 1

The Coast Guard is encouraging the public to be safe on the water this Memorial Day weekend.

"We want to make sure everyone enjoying the holiday makes it home to their families at the end of the day," said Walt Taylor, the First Coast Guard District's recreational boating safety specialist.

Cold water awareness: Although the air temperature is warm, New England waters are still cold. Ensure you are dressing for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

Rip Tide Awareness: Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water commonly found in the waters off beaches. Panicked swimmers often try to counter a rip current by swimming straight back to shore, putting themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue. Understand rip currents at weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent.

Wear a life jacket: Life jackets save lives. Accidents can leave a strong swimmer injured, unconscious, or exhausted in the water. Make sure you know your state's life jacket laws.

Never boat under the influence (BUI): It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

File a float plan: If you are going on the water, tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you should return. The quicker you are reported missing, the quicker we can find you. Download the Coast Guard's boating application from your phone's app store.

Have a VHF marine radio: Cells phones are not reliable on the water, so make sure you also have a radio to access VHF-channel 16, the marine emergency channel. We recommend a waterproof radio and case for your phone.

Monitor weather broadcasts: Watch for current storm and small craft advisories. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Forecasts can be heard by tuning in to channels 1 through 5 on a VHF marine radio or by checking the NWS website at weather.gov.

Have a signaling device to communicate an emergency: Boaters should have signal flares, whistle, horn, or signal mirror, in addition to an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) to alert first responders to the location of a water emergency.

For a free vessel safety check, visit the Coast Guard Auxiliary website: cgaux.org

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