On Your Side: Staying safe in the water

Saturday, April 26, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- James McMenamin is celebrating an anniversary.

Saturday marks his fifth year patrolling the waters for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and now his mission is boating safety.

"We're trying to make sure everyone is as safe as they can be," McMenamin said.

McMenamin and two other crew members were patrolling the waters looking out for kayakers, paddle boarders, boats, and even a floating band.

"We're going to watch for other vessels on the river that come by that are perhaps going to throw up a big wake, and we're going to ask them to slow down. When they're passing the paddle boaters and kayakers they don't throw a big wake which will tip over one of those boats and someone could be injured," McMenamin said.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary will do boat inspections if they see someone doing something unsafe, and most of the time people don't even know they're doing something wrong.

"Inexperience, inattention, boats that arent properly equipped," McMenamin said.

All of those contributing factors for boating accidents. The top three in 2012 were inattention which caused 581 accidents, inexperience caused 407 accidents, and improper lookout lead to 391 accidents.

With the summer months quickly approaching, more and more people are going to be hitting the water. The Coast Guard Auxiliary said the key to being safe is having a float plan.

"When you're going out on your boat you're going to tell somebody that's ashore, where you're going, what you're doing, and when you're expected back," McMenamin said. "If you're supposed to be back at 4 o'clock and here it is 4:30 or 5, and you haven't come back yet somebody on shore needs to know that so they can call authorities and we can start a search."

The Coast Guard Auxiliary said they do courtesy inspections and if you don't pass, you won't get a penalty. They will tell you what you did wrong and come back and check again.


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