KIRKLAND, Wash. – During their Tuesday, May 5 meeting the City Council proclaimed Safe Boating Week as May 16-22 in Kirkland.
Washington State waters have been utilized for everything from generating economic opportunity to affording families opportunities for recreation. The importance of our lakes and rivers cannot be overemphasized. Safe Boating Week is an important opportunity to remind ourselves that protecting the future of our water ways rests on each of us.
COVID-19 is forcing everyone to navigate uncharted waters, including boaters. Many people are wondering if they can go boating, who they can boat with, and where they can go once they leave the dock. On Monday, April 27, Governor Jay Inslee eased restrictions on recreational boating and fishing, as long as specific social distancing guidelines are followed. In many areas, the water is open, however, it’s more important than ever that boaters are responsible to limit unnecessary risk not only to themselves, but to other boaters, law enforcement, and first responders.
“Boating is a wonderful activity to engage in during these challenging times that allows us to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing,” said Fire Chief Joseph Sanford. “Please remember that though we may be enjoying warm days very soon, the water in Lake Washington is still very cold. Always take proper safety precautions, and never drink and boat.”
The Safe Boating Campaign, led by the National Safe Boating Council, offers these tips for practicing social distancing and safety while boating:
1. Follow state and local guidance from public health officials, marine law enforcement agencies, department of natural resources, park services and others.
2. Stay in your local community.
3. Limit the people aboard your boat to people in your immediate household. No guests, no friends, no grandparents that don’t live in your house.
4. File a float plan. Make sure a loved one or friend knows the details of your trip in the event of an emergency. 5. Everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when you’re on the water.
6. Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your house.
7. Maintain safe distance at the fuel dock or loading up at the marina.
8. Wash hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer.
9. Go right from your house to the boat and back so that you don’t have unnecessary contact with anyone.
10. Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, navigation light, a horn or whistle, a first aid kit. 11. Pack food, water and other things you may need as restaurants and marina stores may not be open.
12. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios and personal locator beacons (PLB). Cell phones are often not reliable in an emergency situation.
13. Don’t go boating if someone in your household is sick.
14. Don’t drink and boat.