National Safe Boating Week happens in May every year before the Memorial Day holiday in an effort to promote safe and responsible boating for everyone. The goal of the week is to ensure boaters know how to reduce their risks of problems by thoroughly examining their vessel before every trip, creating a float plan, knowing laws and regulations, and completing boating safety courses. But the most visible goal of National Safe Boating Week is promoting wearing a life jacket any time a person is on a boat.
“We set aside a week to recognize the importance of taking boating safety precautions before taking to the water and recognize the risks associated with one of our country’s favorite pastimes,” said President Obama, in his proclamation of National Safe Boating Week. “As we continue to take advantage of our country’s beautiful bodies of water, let us recommit to ensuring water safety and exercising appropriate boating procedures.”
On May 21st, the first day of National Safe Boating Week, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston held a kickoff event at their base in downtown Charleston. The Charleston District participated along with numerous other federal, local and state agencies, as well as private companies that work on the water. The goal of the day was to show off to the public some of the ways they can stay safe on the water and showcase how each organization relates to the safe boating mission.
The Charleston District has recently begun an effort to promote water safety through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Water Safety Program. The Corps is the nation’s leading provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states and more than 370 million visitors per year. While the Charleston District doesn’t manage any recreation sites in South Carolina, the Savannah District manages three campgrounds in the state at Lakes Hartwell, Thurmond and Russell. Additionally, Charleston is surrounded by water with the harbor, beaches, rivers and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
For these reasons, the Charleston District has begun utilizing Bobber the Water Safety Dog, the Corps’ national mascot, to promote water safety for children. Drowning is the number one injury-related cause of death in children ages one to four. Bobber has made several appearances around the Lowcountry in recent months, including at the Coast Guard’s kickoff event. Dozens of children were able to interact with Bobber at the event and learned about water safety at the Charleston District’s display booth. The message from Bobber and the Corps was simple- always wear your life jacket when you’re in or near water.
The event was a great place to partner with the Coast Guard to help save lives; a topic more important than any project we work on. After a successful event, the Charleston District hopes everyone will remember to wear their life jacket when they are out on the water.