GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Summer in West Michigan can mean a number of different things each year. Key to those being warming temperatures, warming lake waters and an almost irresistible urge to find a boat and get out on the water as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
However, before you get too far into enjoying the coming summer, you need to take a moment and refresh your knowledge of boating safety and what possibly even new regulations apply to you and your boat before you head out on Lake Michigan.
Boating Safety Basic Tips:
The best place to start is uscgboating.org. This website, along with the Coast Guard App, are the one-stop shops for everything boater safety, boater regulation and boater information that you will need for the summer. You are even able to get custom information on required equipment for your length and type of vessel via the Coast Guard app!
Regardless of specifics, everyone should go out with food, water, life vests, throwables, a sound producing device and a fire extinguisher at minimum. You should also file a float plan with the Coast Guard and make sure someone onshore knows that you will be on the water.
This important safety step ensures that if you end up in trouble someone knows where to start the search or if you've been gone too long and might be in need of help.
When To Ask For Help:
One important factor of safety is knowing when a situation is getting out of hand and you need to reach out for help.
Speaking with Boatswain's Mate Second Class Austin Frye from the Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven, he says, "If you feel like you're in danger, or if you're in need of assistance and you think 'I can't do this by myself' or 'if I don't do something, the situation is going to get worse,' call the Coast Guard."
At that point, the Coast Guard will assess the situation and if need be, respond to the scene.
From there, you can rest assured that you will be in very capable hands. The men and women of the Coast Guard are constantly training for any kind of search and rescue operation that Lake Michigan can throw their way. They respond to around 100 incidents each year and they are certainly up to the task!
Of course, it's always best to make sure you have responsibly prepared for your trip onto the water and that you don't need to put the Coast Guard to the test. However, it is a comfort to know that they are ready to go should you need them!
-- Meteorologist Michael Behrens
Email me at: MBehrens@13OnYourSide.com
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