Coast Guard launches “Paddles Up Great Lakes”
CLEVELAND – The Ninth District Coast Guard District is launching “Paddles Up Great Lakes,” an educational outreach campaign aimed at raising safe boating awareness among the region’s paddlesports community.
The campaign begins Labor Day weekend and runs through Sept. 10.
“Paddlesports is the fastest growing segment of recreational boating,” said Frank Jennings, Jr., the Ninth District’s recreational boating safety program manager. “Current economic conditions coupled with the modest entry-level cost of paddlecraft have contributed to a surge in the popularity of this sport.”
With the growth of this user group, the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary are engaging paddlers and paddling groups in the interest of on-water safety. Coast Guard boating safety
statistics from 2009 indicate 255 paddlers either died or were injured while paddling on our Nation’s waters. Of those, 120 drowned.
“Paddlers are boaters," Jennings said. "But, there’s generally no mandatory boater education requirement unless required by state law when renting from an outfitter or livery. Many new paddlers are potentially taking to the water with little or no awareness of required safety equipment or safe paddling practices. Our goal is to raise that awareness.”
During "Paddles Up Great Lakes," Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel, along with participating federal, state and local partners will be passing out safety and education information, as well as self-adhesive ID stickers to canoe and kayak owners. The self-adhesive ID stickers aid marine patrol and rescue personnel in quickly locating owners of paddlecraft found empty and adrift on the water, potentially shortening the duration of search
If not available locally, paddlecraft ID stickers can also be obtained from the Coast Guard’s Ninth District Auxiliary and Boating Safety Branch, by e-mailing a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the campaign and throughout the year the Coast Guard recommends the following for a safer paddling experience:
Paddlesports are the fastest growing segment of recreational boating, with more than 300,000 paddlecraft (primarily kayaks) now being sold annually. Paddlecraft are an extremely affordable entry point to recreational boating, which is attractive to new boaters, boaters downsizing from larger boats and those interested in getting closer to the environment.
New and inexperienced paddlers should seek out paddler education before heading out on the water. The Coast Guard Auxiliary now offers the “Paddlesports America Course,” a four-hour, classroom-based introduction to paddling safety, techniques and safety strategies.
Courses may also be offered by the U.S. Power Squadrons, state departments of natural resources, community park districts and local commercial outfitters.
The American Canoe Association offers several hands-on paddlesport courses.
For additional boating safety tips, go to http://www.uscgboating.org/index.aspx.
For more information or media inquiries, contact the Auxiliary and Boating Safety Branch office at (216) 902-6094.
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