The CDC says drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury resulting in death worldwide. In 2010, more than 115 people in Michigan died from accidental drowning.
Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard and other marine patrols in West Michigan were out training for the big weekend ahead.
They did an exercise simulating someone jumping off the Holland Pierhead on the channel side. That’s a familiar scenario for Chief Eli Paquette of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Holland. He says, “Last year, there were a few fatalities between the currents and people jumping off the pier.” Chief Paquette continues, “You could be run over by another vessel, you could hit your head on a rock.”
Chief Paquette says before you head out on this year’s maiden voyage, make sure all your boating gear is ready, “Check it once, check it twice prior to getting underway. Make sure all the gear and requirements are on board for the length of your vessel.”
A new state law requires anyone born after July 1, 1996 to get a Boater’s Safety Card before getting behind the wheel. A boater’s safety course is recommended for anyone driving a boat and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department will be out with their new Boston Whaler, making sure everyone is following the laws.
Chief Paquette says, “Enjoy the great lakes and what they have to offer – and ya know, use common sense.”
The U.S. Coast Guard stresses the importance of having a designated driver. It’s also required to have a life vest on board for each person on the boat. They say, children should always be wearing a life vest.