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National Safe Boating Week open house set for Saturday

By Staff | May 16, 2019

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 91, stationed on Fort Myers Beach, will celebrate National Safe Boating Week, May 18 through May 24, with an appearance at the Hammond Stadium, as well as an open house on Fort Myers Beach.

Stop by Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, and join the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 91 today, May 17, for the kickoff of National Safe Boating Week, which celebrates Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. In addition to learning about boating safety, attendees will have the opportunity to watch the Fort Myers Miracle take on the St. Lucie Mets at 6:30 p.m.

Public Affairs Staff Officer Daniel Eaton said will have a booth set up at the stadium to hand out information to the community.

“The Safe Boating Campaign reminds boaters of important safety practices, such as taking a boating safety course, never boating under the influence, and knowing navigational rules,” said Communications Director of the National Safe Boating Council Yvonne Pentz said in a prepared statement. “Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard tell the story that responsible boating can save lives.”

The National Safe Boating Week Open House will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Coast Guard Station, 719 San Carlos Drive.

The open house gets a little better every year due to a great deal of corporation with other stakeholders, such as the Fort Myers Beach Fire Rescue and Sheriff’s Department, Eaton said.

The open house is always held in May during National Safe Boating week to bring attention to the fact that life jackets save lives.

“That has been statistically proven,” Eaton said.

Alcohol consumption is the primary cause of injury, Eaton said.

And when an individual gets ejected unexpectedly, bad things happen.

The ejection can happen by hitting a shoal, or a wave, which sends an individual into the water.

“When you hit the water there is a tendency to become unconscious,” Eaton said.

A life jacket takes the unconscious victim and puts them face up in the water.

“Life jackets are becoming more and more comfortable,” Eaton said, especially the inflatable ones.

An important message the auxiliary wants to share is how crucial it is for children to wear life jackets, ones that fit them correctly.

“You don’t want to use an adult life jacket for a child. The children’s life jacket has a crotch strap that buckles up. Once you get a child in the water their tendency is to reach up and say mommy and daddy. If that isn’t hooked up, they are going to slide out of the life jacket,” Eaton said.

In addition to the life jackets it is also important for boaters to have a VHF radio on their boat.

“It’s a huge asset to the Coast Guard if you are in trouble,” Eaton said.

A cell phone would connect an individual to a 9-11 operator, rather than the U.S. Coast Guard with a VHF marine radio.

“Even if it’s a hand held it can get people out of trouble,” he said.

The free event will feature the Lee County EMS; Safe Kids Southwest Florida; Lee County Sheriff Marine Unit; U.S. Coast Guard and Auxiliary Recruiters; Florida Department Environmental Protection; Fort Myers Beach Fire Department truck; Golisano Neonatal and Pediatric Hospital ambulance and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Throughout the day, there will be the instructional seminar ‘Suddenly in Command’ to learn what to do in the event of a boating emergency and demonstrations of paddle boat safety,” Flotilla Commander Nick Kaveski said in a prepared statement. “Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach has earned multiple ‘Kimball Awards’ for performance excellence. This is an opportunity for residents to learn about the missions of the Coast Guard and boating safety. As an added attraction, ‘Coastie’, a remote-controlled low endurance class cutter, will make an appearance. Free hot dogs and water will be served.”

The open house will feature various booths, each with a different focus of boating safety. For example, an education booth highlight boating safety classes, will be among the booths.

Eaton said the community is blessed to have a Coast Guard station in their neighborhood.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the lead agency protecting America’s Seward frontier in recreational boating safety, was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, visit www.cgaux.org.