Rochester, New York – Scott Provvidenza takes safety on the water very seriously. On his boat, even his dogs get life jackets.
“On my boat, I’m taking more responsibility for all the other boaters and the people on my boat, and my equipment. And a lot of unforeseen things can happen quickly,” Provvidenza said.
That’s a mentality the Coast Guard hopes all boaters keep in mind.
According to Chief Petty Officer Matt Riesberg, besides ensuring everyone is always wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while out on the water, a radio should always be on hand, which can be more reliable than a cell phone. “It’s a little bit easier to have a life jacket on and fall in the water to increase your chances of survival,” Riesberg said. “It becomes extremely difficult to put this on when you’re in the water, in case there’s an injury even more difficult. It increases our chances of finding you, keeping you afloat, and making sure you get home to your loved ones.”
And that radio you have on hand should be set to channel 16. “Channel 16 is monitored all across the lake, all the way to our Canadian partners as well. People all around you will hear, we’ll hear you and we can even triangulate your position if you use these,” Riesberg added.
According to President of Advanced Life Support Syed Ahmed Mustafa, you should always stay hydrated, and watch out for signs of heat stroke. “Once you stop sweating and you start getting a very significant headache, almost to the point of potentially passing out, you’re now having a heat stroke. That is an absolute medical emergency and someone on your boat should be calling 911 and we should be getting you help,” Mustafa said.
And both say never drive a boat while intoxicated – just like as if it were a car. “There are no brakes on a boat, you can’t slow it down. So you’re going too fast, your reaction time is slower, and you’re going to hit something. That something could be someone in the water, it could be a personal watercraft, it could be a jet ski, it could be a pier, it could be a dock,” Mustafa said.
But take it from Scott, a boat is actually much more difficult to drive than a car. “You’re paying attention to more, what’s beneath you and what’s in front of you. As opposed to a car, which is just in front of you. Here you have obstacles in the water, deep in the water. You have depth to worry about,” Provvidenza said.
“Enjoy the day, but also be on guard for any unforeseen challenges,” Provvidenza said. You can find more information on safe boating, and even getting boater certifications or taking a boating safety course, on parks.ny.gov.