NORFOLK, Va. - With the summer months almost here, the Coast Guard is trying to make sure everyone is staying safe on the water.
They say the best way to do that is to be prepared ahead of time.
Along with your cell phone, you should carry a VHF radio tuned to channel 16. Not only can you use it to call for help, the Coast Guard will also put out alerts on that channel for things like inclement weather, hazards in the water or other boaters in need of help.
"You could hear that there's a boat near you in distress and you could be able to assist faster than we could," said Operations Specialist First Class Amanda Lewis.
Life jackets are also one of the best ways to protect yourself.
"Life jackets save lives. It's a proven fact," said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Butierries.
According to the Coast Guard, 80% of drownings involve someone not wearing a life jacket. They’re also required by law for children under 13.
Another useful tool is the Coast Guard app, which allows you to file a float plan.
“If you get into a situation, a distress situation, it’ll allow the Coast Guard to be informed as to where you are, what your intentions are and it also has a new link for you to add a picture of your boat so we’ll know exactly what we’re looking for if we have to send someone to assist you," said Lewis.
It also has an emergency assistance button that will connect you with your closest Coast Guard unit or 911 dispatcher.
"It's definitely a time saver for us because it provides your GPS position for you," said Butierres.
You can learn more about staying safe on the water by clicking here.