Boating safety: Tips for staying safe on Lake Erie this Memorial Day

Local News

It’s that time of year once again to get out on Lake Erie and enjoy the waters. But before you “wash away” there are safety measures in place for every person on board.

Fontaine Glenn was live from the Bayfront this morning with more.

In 2019, there was a spike in boater fatalities on Lake Erie.

Then in 2020, because of the pandemic many people wanted to get out of their homes. The number of boat owners increased, meaning more inexperienced boaters out on the water, resulting in more Coast Guard response calls.

The Coast Guard is reminding boaters to stay safe and to remember the following safety tips.

A summer activity for many- boating on Lake Erie — but before getting on board, boat owners have to make sure their boat is fully equipped with the proper safety equipment.

“If you’re an inexperienced boater, know your equipment before you go out there. Make sure you have all of your safety equipment, your PFD’s, your signaling devices, your throwable inflatable devices. Those are all items required by the Coast Guard,” said LTJG Joe Neff, Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Public Affairs Officer.

For Captains, safety is a top priority…

“When you’re out there you’re by yourself sure there may be boats around you, but it’s the idea that you leave here safely and you want to get back safely,” said Bob Zawadzki, Captain of Perch Pirate.

The United States Coast Guard can stop any boat on the waters for a safety inspection.

“We’re making sure there’s enough life jackets on board for everybody who’s currently on board the vessel, a throwable flotation device, either a seat cushion or a life ring that can be quickly thrown out, signaling devices, we make sure your nav lights work, good communication equipment onboard,” LTJG Neff.

With his 40 years of boating experience, Captain Zawadzki has advice for first time boat owners.

“The first rule is common sense. There are rules set up that have been around for hundreds of years regarding colors of buoys and stuff like that. My two favorites are ‘if in doubt go about,’ ‘big boat, little boat,'” said Captain Zawadzki.

You can take courses locally through the Erie Power Squadron, plus they do voluntary inspections so you pass those random Coast Guard inspections. The pandemic put boating classes on hold, but the Coast Guard says they are hopeful as we return to normal classes will be available again.

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