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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers five hot tips on staying safe while staying cool this summer          Send a link to a friend

[JULY 21, 2006]  WASHINGTON -- With most of the country gripped in the midst of a heat wave, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary reminds boaters and other water lovers that when it's scorching hot, there are some tips they need to follow to stay safe while staying cool:

1. Always wear your life jacket when boating or swimming: Life jackets float -- you don't! Although it's tempting to "go jacketless," statistics indicate that the decision to do so can be deadly. Of the total water and boating fatalities, over 80 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket! Moreover, on federal waters, and in many states, children under a certain age must wear a life jacket while a vessel is under way, or the operator can face a fine.

2. Stay well-hydrated and wear sunscreen! Approximately 30 minutes before you leave for your day in the sun, be sure to consume two to three glasses of water, and apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Maintain hydration by continuing to drink 4 to 8 ounces every 30 to 60 minutes, and reapply sunscreen every two hours or as needed.

3. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake! Both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate the body, making it more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is often deadly! If you do drink alcohol or caffeine, take in an additional 8 ounces of water for every 8 ounces of alcohol or caffeinated beverage you consume. In addition, alcohol causes a decreased sense of balance and depth perception, factors which are necessary for the safe operation of a vessel, especially in crowded boat launch ramps and marinas, and when your balance and depth perception are impaired, studies indicate that you are 10 times more likely to fall overboard!

4. Carry a first-aid kit with you to the beach and on board your boat! The motto of the U.S. Coast Guard is "Semper Paratus," which means always prepared. Be sure to carry the essentials (bandages, gauze, tape, etc), including rubber gloves, which help the person giving aid avoid blood-borne pathogens. Bring along a basic first-aid book, and be familiar with procedures to activate the emergency medical system in the area where you'll be boating or swimming.

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5. Avoid "teak surfing" and other dangerous practices. Teak surfing, the practice of holding onto the swim platform of an inboard or inboard-outboard boat while being dragged slowly though the water, is extremely dangerous for two reasons: (1) You are exposed to the odorless, colorless carbon monoxide gases, which can cause you to lose consciousness and drown; and (2) you run the risk of losing your grip and getting sucked into the boat's propeller. Also, avoid swimming underneath houseboats, where carbon monoxide fumes can accumulate, not only from the boat's engines but from generators.

The U.S. Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, volunteer component that assists the active-duty Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing maritime domain awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and redesignated as the auxiliary in 1941. Its over 31,000 members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.

[U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary news release]

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