Wow, where did the summer go? If you didn’t get out as much as you would have liked this summer, fall is a great time to spend a day on the water. As we head into the fall boating season, closer attention to cold weather boating safety guidelines is a must. With the cooler weather comes colder waters!

When the weather changes so should the type of lifejackets boaters use such as a flotation coat or deck suit-style designed to keep the boater afloat and insulated without using energy. If a person falls overboard in cold water, hypothermia sets in and their chances of survival decrease drastically…and quickly! Bringing extra layers of clothing and weather appropriate outerwear is crucial. Water temperatures can average in the 50’s throughout October and November. Make sure when you head out on your fall boating adventure you are prepared for sudden drops in temperature or approaching storms.

Before getting underway a check of your vessel ensures that it is outfitted with the proper safety gear and is in good operating condition. All boaters should adhere to the following safety tips before leaving the dock: Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Cell phones often lose signal and run out of batteries after a day on the water. They are helpful, but not reliable for emergencies.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) provide the fastest and most accurate way the Coast Guard has of locating and rescuing persons in distress. Your EPIRB must be registered. Response time is the key to survival. The sooner help arrives, the better the chances for survival.

Have a "Vessel Safety Check." It’s a great way of learning about problems that might put boaters in violation of state or federal laws or create danger for you and your passengers on the water. A certified vessel examiner will perform a free Vessel Safety Check (“VSC”) at your boat, at a time of mutual convenience. There is no charge, and no consequences if you don’t pass. Our goal is simply to help make boating as safe as possible for you, your family and your friends, through education. To schedule a VSC in the Brigantine area, email boatsafely@comcast.net or call us at 609-926-7607 and leave a message.

Before getting underway let friends and family know where you are going and your expected return time. Use the new United States Coast Guard App to create a float plan. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water. These planned actions ahead of starting the motor, hoisting the sail, or paddling the vessel are critical to ensuring a safe boating excursion or rescue if the need arises.

Are you are interested in volunteering to promote boating safety? Brigantine Flotilla 85 of the Coast Guard Auxiliary welcomes new members. The Auxiliary acts as a "force multiplier," enabling US Coast Guard active-duty and reserves to do more with the dollars budgeted by the US Congress. The Auxiliary assists the Coast Guard in performing any Coast Guard function except law enforcement and military operations. And no task is more important than promoting and expanding the safety of life at sea!

Meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month (except December) at the Brigantine Beach Community Center, 265 42nd St. at 6:45 p.m. Come join us at our next meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 15 and see what the Auxiliary is all about.

For more information, email boatsafely@comcast.net.

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