Boating safety is very important and it is something everyone should take very seriously. Lives depend on it. That fact became very clear to me recently when I watched the U.S. Coast Guard practice flight ops off Kauai.
Flight ops happens several times a week in the Coast Guard. They get together with the rescue swimmers, the response boat and MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter to practice drills.
I was fortunate enough to be with them on their 45ft response boat and watch them practically three feet away from all of the action. We were about 2 miles off shore and as the helicopter approached I really got how serious this is. The Dolphin was flying really low and the boat was rocking on the waves, sea spray created from the rotors hits you in the face, you can feel the helicopter engine vibrating and even with earplugs it’s very loud.
They practice lowering the basket from the helicopter onto the boat. The flight engineer lowers the basket and the two Coast Guard on the stern of the boat are ready to retrieve the basket. In real life this basket is used to transport people from the boat or the water to the helicopter. After that the two rescue swimmers jumped out of the boat and swam a safe distance away to practice their maneuvers, like being hoisted up by the helicopter single & in tandem, using the basket and jumping from the helicopter into the water from approx. 20 feet up.
Drills like this are practiced routinely by the Coast Guard so that when a real life situation happens, like someone getting lost out in sea for example, they are ready to react and respond. They are prepared for anything that comes their way.
The United States Coast Guard gives us an excellent example of being safe on the water. They use helmets, goggles and life jackets during their drills. When I went to watch them during flight ops they made sure that I had all the proper safety equipment needed.
That being said, we should all take special safety precautions when boating on the water like having enough life jackets on board for everyone and wearing them! The Coast Guard Senior Chief Rescue Swimmer said, even better yet make sure your life jackets are equip with an ACR Distress Strobe light on them (a light that can be scene flashing at night).
Having flares and a registered EPIRB on board is very important too. An EPIRB is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon; it is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency.
You can help encourage boating safety by raising awareness of the proper equipment needed and being a role model by always making the choice to use that equipment. You can also help to bring life jacket loaner stations to your community. If you already have a life jacket loaner station then promote it and make sure it is stocked with life jackets of all sizes. Post social media photos wearing life jackets. Take it seriously, lives depend on it!
The ocean is a huge body of water, it covers about 72% of the waters surface and something bad can happen in an instant, when it does, every second counts. This is why you too need to be prepared for anything. Sometimes even when all necessary safety precautions are taken before going out on the water, bad things can still happen, so it’s very good to know that the U.S. Coast Guard is there prepared and ready to save a life!
It was such an honor to go along on the Coast Guard flight ops. I really want to thank the U.S. Coast Guard for all that they do. I want to thank everyone at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Kauai and at the U.S. Coast Guard Airsta Barbers Point who allowed me to tag along and have this amazing adventure and also for the great advice I received!
Here is a link to my Flight Ops Kauai Slide show: