County residents looking to make history can don their life jackets Saturday at the Hernando Beach Boat Ramp on Calienta Street.
As a part of Safe Boating Week 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 15-08 Hernando Beach is participating in the national “Read, Set, Wear It!” campaign. The auxiliary will be performing free boat and vessel safety checks starting at 8 a.m., with the possibly record-breaking photo set to snap at 11 a.m.
The Saturday event is just one of many planned by the local Coast Guard Auxiliary — a uniform branch of the U.S. Coast Guard that performs similar duties, “except for law enforcement and military capabilities,” according to Flotilla Staff Officer for Public Affairs Kitty Dolan.
Hernando County commissioners will issue a proclamation Tuesday morning ahead of National Safe Boating Week, which is May 18-24. Commissioners plan to wear life preservers during the signing and reading. The auxiliary also will kick off the week with “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day” on Friday. Dolan said she is happy to photograph area businesses and their employees wearing their preservers.
“The (biggest) misconception is they’ll have time to put it on if something happens,” Dolan said. “People should wear it all the time near the water, because most boating accidents happen near the dock.”
“It’s surprising how many kids you see on docks on boats without life jackets,” she said, adding state law mandates children under 6 wear a vest, and federal law says any children under 13 need to wear a flotation device.
According to a news release, data collected by the Coast Guard suggest 84 percent of the 760 who drown a year on average were not wearing a life jacket.
Dolan said the auxiliary offers free safety checks on boats throughout the year. Flotilla members will check to make sure boaters have the right amount of life preservers and proper safety equipment, including emergency signaling, sounding device and marine radio.
The auxiliary also teaches the safe boating course required for operators born after Jan. 1, 1988. The following classes are scheduled:
Call the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 15-08 at (352) 596-6737.