Camano Island Fire & Rescue Promoting Recreational Boating Safety – April 27, 2015

Opening day for recreational shrimping, crabbing, and fishing will soon be upon us. With the increased activity on the water, Camano Island Fire and Rescue would like to remind everyone of the importance of water safety and safe boating practices.

“Life Jackets Save Lives”! The most important thing you can do is to wear a lifejacket when on the water. CIFR owns and maintains Life Jacket Loaner Stations at Camano Island State Park, Cavalero, Utsalady and Maple Grove County Parks. The loaner stations are equipped with life jackets of all sizes and are LOANED out on the honor system FREE of charge.

Along with loaning out life jackets, CIFR also has two Rescue Boats ready to respond to emergencies on the water. Each year Camano Island Fire and Rescue responds to numerous water rescue incidents and in 2014 the number of responses was 53. “Opening days are an especially busy time for us” said Chief Michael Schick. “Over the past five years we have responded to many opening day emergencies that include overturned boats, drownings, lost boaters and vessels taking on water.”

In order to prepare for these rescues, CIFR will staff additional units on the water during peak boater times. The rescue boats will be on the water ready to respond to emergencies and performing annual training requirements.

Non-boaters should also be aware of water safety as they enjoy Camano’s beautiful parks and beaches, especially on the tidal flats of Skagit and Port Susan Bays. “Tides can change quickly in these shallow water areas” warns Assistant Chief Levon Yengoyan. “People are often caught unaware when exploring the tide flats with a quick incoming tide” he said.

CIFR wants to remind everyone to know your location on the water, have a working VHF Coast Guard radio, and to make sure that you have a cell phone with a long lasting battery available. Other boating Safety Reminders include:

-Have a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for each subject onboard

-Have WORKING distress signals

-Make sure all navigation lights are working

-Make sure fuel, oil and coolant levels are full

-Have working fire extinguishers

-Carry tools to make minor repairs if necessary

-Make sure bilge pumps are working properly

-Check weather forecast before and during time on the water