Items of Interest

DO I USE MY MARINE RADIO OR MY WIRELESS PHONE WHEN CALLING FOR EMERGENCY HELP?
Wireless phones may be used to call 9-1-1 during a boating emergency. I wireless phone is an excellent backup communications' device. However, a wireless phone is not a substitute for a VHF-FM marine radio. A marine radio has several distinct advantages over a wireless phone. With the relative low cost and compact size of a marine radio, any boater on any size of craft (including canoes and kayaks) should carry a radio.

A marine radio:

  • Is waterproof
  • Provides immediate notification of distress to any vessel listening on that channel which means faster assistance
  • Allows for rescue units to home in on transmission

EMERGENCY RADIO BOATING PROCEDURES

  • Make sure radio is on and turned to VHF Channel 16
  • Press microphone button and clearly say: "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, THIS IS.' (Give the following information: vessel name and/or description - type, color, and length)
  • Position and/or location
  • Nature of emergency
  • Number of people on board
  • Release microphone button briefly
  • Wait for 10 seconds. If no answer, repeat the MAYDAY call
  • Follow directions and provide information requested by the rescue agency. If situation permits, stand by the radio for further communication with the Coast Guard or another vessel

WHO WILL I REACH WITH MY WIRELESS PHONE?
Wireless phone service may not be available on all waters. If service is available your 9-1-1 call for assistance will be picked up by the nearest cellular tower in the most direct line of sight to your location. The 9-1-1 center receiving your call has no way of knowing from where you are calling unless you tell them. Be prepared to provide your location. Call 9-1-1 only in an actual emergency.

WHEN USING A WIRELESS PHONE TO CALL 9-1-1, BE SURE YOU KNOW...

  • How your wireless phone works. Your phone may be pre-programmed to dial 9-1-1 with one button. You could accidentally call 9-1-1 and not know it. Handle your phone carefully to prevent the automatic misdialing of 9-1-1.
  • How to increase the phone's signal strength. Point antenna up; turn your body- you may be obstructing signal; find a clearing. Move from behind a mountain or island. Get on the boat's highest point.

AND CAN CONVEY...

  • Your name and your wireless phone number
  • From where you are calling: on a boat, island, or shore
  • The emergency situation
  • Condition of vessel/name of vessel
  • Number of people on board
  • Condition/health/ages of people on board
  • How long you can stay afloat if sinking
  • Your location or last known location
  • Time and point of departure from dock
  • Your destination
  • Weather condition
  • Identify the survival equipment available

WIRELESS 9-1-1 PHONE CALLS IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS
While 9-1-1 phone service is available in the San Juan Islands, it is not recommended for wireless phones. Instead when using a wireless phone to place a 9-1-1 call to summon help, dial 360-378-4141. If you contact a 9-1-1 call taker, emphasize that you are on a boat in the water and provide your last known location. Ask for Coast Guard assistance.

THE 10 ESSENTIALS
(Some items are not required on some vessels.)

  • VHF-marine radio: Test the radio prior to departure. Carry a fully charged battery for hand-held units. If a wireless phone is also carried, be sure it too is fully charges, and pack an extra battery
  • Approved life jacket for every person on board
  • Throwable flotation device: With floatable line attached to boat
  • Sound producing device: Horn, whistle, bell
  • Visual distress signals: Flare or distress flag and SOS signal light
  • Compass and chart of area
  • First aid and survival kit
  • Anchor and anchor line
  • Bilge pump and manual pump or bailing device
  • Fire extinguishers: Fully charged

PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST

  • Fuel tank full and oil level checked: 1/3 Out, 1/3 Return, 1/3 Reserve
  • Drain plugs installed
  • Battery fully charged: Batteries secured, terminals covered
  • Navigation lights working prorerly
  • Vessel properly loaded: People and equipment
  • Paddles/oars
  • Tool kit and spare parts
  • Marine weather forecast checked
  • Float plan left with friends
  • Documentation: Numbering on vessel; registration on board; placards posted; radio licenses; EPIRB registered.
  • Food, spare food, water, clothing
  • Passengers briefed on emergency procedures, equipment operation and location


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