Officials promote boating safety ahead of Memorial Day, unveil new app

KEY BISCAYNE, FLA. (WSVN) - Coast Guard officials are preparing for the summer by laying out safety guidelines for boaters.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and local law enforcement held a joint media event Thursday afternoon to promote safe boating before Memorial Day Weekend.

The agencies are promoting National Safe Boating Week with demonstrations and information about life jacket use, boating under the influence enforcement, awareness on the water, emergency locator beacons and required boating safety equipment.

“Florida has almost one million registered boaters and most don’t have any formal boating training whatsoever,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Lt. Derek Wallin. “Imagine the Turnpike or 95 on a busy day, and over Memorial Day and busy weekends. That’s what our waterways look like.”

According to statistics, Florida leads the nation in fatal accidents on the water. “Fifty-two percent were attributed to drowning,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Major Alfredo Escanio.

Officials advise boaters use channel 16 on an HF radio to reach first responders in case of an emergency.

Also, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced their new Reporting Offsite Arrival – Mobile (ROAM) app allowing travelers arriving via pleasure boat to report their U.S. entry through a smartphone or tablet.

For more information regarding the ROAM app, click here.

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