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NEWS | June 29, 2010

Don't rock the boat: stay safe with 5 top Coast Guard tips

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Whether it's pooling in a lake, flowing down a river or sloshing on the shores, water is not hard to miss in a Lowcountry summer. To aid members of Joint Base Charleston who take to it by boat, the command senior chief of Coast Guard Sector Charleston recently weighed in venturing out into South Carolina waters.

According to Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Dale, a veteran of 23 years in the Coast Guard and Navy combined, a successful waterborne adventure can most easily be summed up in five top tips with one simple, overriding theme. Staying safe on the water, means being educated on the dangers and how to avoid them.

"Safety's always first," he said. "The ocean is an unforgiving place. It's not like jumping in a car."

Whereas automobiles are driven year round, a personal boat for some may be dusted off only a few times each spring or summer. So, Senior Chief Dale recommends being familiar with one's vessel and keeping the right equipment on board.

A professional fishing reel might help bring in a whopping trophy fish, but it didn't quite make the senior chief's list. The essential gear Senior Chief Dale recommends is:
· Lifejackets
· Flares, signal mirror, dye markers
· A marine band radio
· A sound making device
· Flashlights

"If someone is out in a 17-foot john boat in camouflage, he is going to be much easier to find with that equipment," he said.

Another device Senior Chief Dale recommends is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or as the senior chief calls it, an EPR. Although this particular EPR won't help enlisted Airmen make their next rank, it just might save a life. The device transmits a signal which can pinpoint an individual's location via satellite. The device can be purchased at any good marine store, the senior chief said.

With water in high supply in the Lowcountry, playing it safe is a safe bet for members of Joint Base Charleston - not just for oneself, but for those without wingmen on the water. Many rescues are performed by "good Samaritans," said Senior Chief Dale, but the term shouldn't be confused with being a hero.

Specifically, the senior chief said that intoxicated individuals should be considered "off limits." If intoxicated individuals are observed on the water, do not approach them, he advised. Instead, call in the report to local law enforcement.

To report an incident or call in an emergency to Coast Guard Sector Charleston, call the 24-hour line at 740-7050.