Coast Guard Auxiliary hosting boating safety event

Boaters can learn safe-boating practices, get a free inspection and check out watercraft used by the sheriff’s office.

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More boating accidents and deaths occur in Florida’s waters than in any other state, according to the United States Coast Guard. Most of them reported in the state, as well as the country, could have been avoided with safe boating practices, said Alice Williams, public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 17-11.

In 2016, drowning was reported as the cause of death in 80% of all fatalities in the United States; and about 83% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

To raise public awareness of recreational boating safety, the auxiliary is hosting an event this weekend at R.D. Keene Park in Windermere.

“The Coast Guard’s role is basically to protect our shores and to assist maritime and recreational boating traffic on freshwater, as well as coastal waterways,” Williams said. “A big part of what the Coast Guard does is promote maritime and boating safety.”

Sunday’s event is held prior to Memorial Day, which starts the big boating season, she said.

Attendees can pick up safety brochures and talk to professionals about safe boating, which includes selecting and using a life jacket and proper boat maintenance.

Personnel from the Coast Guard Auxiliary will provide free vessel inspections for boats both on the water and in the parking lot.

“The beauty of that is if you have something you’re not compliant with, you won’t get in trouble,” Williams said. “It’s just about making sure people’s boats are as safe as possible.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will display its safety unit, including a patrol boat, an air boat and personal watercraft. A 29-foot Coast Guard vessel will be on site, as well.

Guests can watch demonstrations on knot tying, and a course will be set up for children to navigate.

The highest priority when boating is safety, Williams said.

“Always be aware when the boat is in operation and watch out for other vessels around you,” she said. “There are a lot of vessels with a low profile like kayaks, personal watercraft and paddleboards. Make sure safety measures are working – fire extinguishers, daytime and nighttime signaling device. You must have a lifejacket for each person; that’s so critical.”

To help support National Safe Boating Week, the Windermere Town Council issued a proclamation at its May 8 meeting.




Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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