‘Stay vigilant’: Boating and swimming safety key as weather warms in Northeast Ohio

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CLEVEAND (WJW) — With the unofficial start to the summer just days away, the Coast Guard is reminding you, safety first this boating season. 

“First, wear a life jacket and file a float plan,” said Jeremy Maginot with the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland. “Second, don’t drink and boat, and third understand the navigational rules of the road and keep clear of large commercial vessels on the Cuyahoga River.” 

Last year, with the pandemic, boaters headed out in big numbers on waterways which resulted in Phastar Marine Safety providing rescue or assistance to 40 people who fell into the water. 

WJW photo

“Please stay vigilant, be patient, courteous, and above all, safe,” said Drew Ferguson, director of facilities and operations at Phastar.

Last weekend, we got a stark reminder just how quickly things can change when you’re on the water, as seen in the video of the Tiki Barge crashing into the Nautica Queen which was moored along the dock. 

“Much like wearing a seatbelt, you cannot wait until an accident occurs to find your lifejacket,” Maginot said. 

Boating isn’t the only thing occupying the waterways these days. The Cuyahoga River won the USA Today 10 best Urban Kayaking spots, which has seen a rising number of recreational paddlers on the water. 

“Wear a wetsuit, splash jacket or at a minimum, layers of non-cotton clothing, and most importantly, that top layer, your life jacket,” reminded Rachel Nagle, President and CEO of Cleveland Metroparks Recreation.  

This summer will mark a return to normalcy for many after a year removed from certain summertime traditions, like swimming, Cleveland Metroparks officials are reminding you to pay attention to lifeguards. 

“We are there to be able to help and protect you and if we keep you off the water, just remember it is for your safety,” Nagle said. 

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that nationally, drowning is the cause of death in 79% of all boating-related fatalities, another reminder of how important it is to wear that life jacket. 

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