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SAFETY TIPS - Life "Insurance" that can keep you alive
Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) - The time is long past when people could complain that "life jackets" are all uncomfortable and unfashionable. Federal and State law requires that PFD's be on board and readily accessible for every person aboard, and that they be worn by children age 12 and under and by all people on a Personal Watercraft (PWC). Common and safety sense says that PFD's should always be worn by everyone while underway.
File a Float Plan - It costs only pennies per trip and could save your life. Click on the link (right or below) to Float Plan Central for more information.
Carry Visual Distress Signals (VDS's) - Unless the water is less than two miles wide, the law requires you to carry visual distress signals. That means that for all of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, except for small protected bays, VDS's are required for Door and Kewaunee County boaters. Common and safety sense agrees completely with the law.
Have local Nautical Charts - Nautical charts can tell you not only where the coastline is, but also the depth of the water, clearance under bridges, and the direction of magnetic north where you are boating. Click here for links to NOAA Great Lakes Charts viewable on-line.
Equip your boat with a compass - Fog and haze can form quickly on local waters. A compass is the most reliable indicator avaliable of what direction to go to get back to port. Combined with a chart, a compass can be used to determine your location on the water, if you can see and identify charted landmarks.
Equip your boat with a VHF Radio - Both standard VHF marine band radios and the new DSC radios are optional for recreational boaters. A license for VHF is not required, but is optional for recreational boaters. If DSC radios are used, a license must be obtained. The Coast Guard monitors VHF Channel 16, the calling and distress channel, so they will hear your distress call if you make one. If DSC radios are coupled with a GPS system, they can transmit your exact location. Almost all VHF radios can also tune to the marine weather channels. One thing to remember about VHF radio: it is for necessary and serious communication only, not for casual conversation.
Equip your boat with GPS - Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are a new technology of the satellite and computer age. They can very precisely pinpoint your position. Only the more expensive models, however, show position on a chart or map.
Equip your PFD's with EPIRB's - Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons provide a signal that the Coast Guard will hear and can locate. Most are designed to start broadcasting automatically upon contact with the water. See the notice regarding older EPIRB's on our Alerts page.