PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The U.S. Coast Guard is asking for owners of kayaks to use labeling stickers on their vessels after responding to a number of unmanned kayaks.
Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Taylor says they’ve recently seen an increase in the number of adrift kayaks. When this happens, they have to assume there’s a missing person.
“If we find an unmanned and adrift kayak and it has a sticker, if we have a sticker with your phone number on it, we can contact you directly,” he said.
The stickers go inside the kayak, where weather conditions can not cause it to fade away. The Coast Guard Auxilary provides them, but if you can not get ahold of one, Taylor says you can also use a permanent marker to write your contact information on the vessel.
Along with possibly wasting time and resources that could be pulled away from actual emergencies, Taylor says launching a search-and-rescue costs taxpayers.
“People may not realize, it costs $4,000 an hour to launch a helicopter and $2,000 to launch a small boat to launch searches. If we can mitigate that by getting in contact with the owner, we can save taxpayer dollars in the early stages of the case,” he said.
With the number of people out on the water increasing due to the hot summer weather, Taylor says they want people to have fun but also be responsible.
“We want people to be safe on the water but enjoy themselves and do what’s necessary to take care of your safety and property,” he said.
And that includes making sure your kayak is secure on land or at the docks, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Victor Velasquez.
“An aspect and responsibility of owning a kayak is making sure it’s tied up on the docks. If foul weather pushes it out to the ocean, we would have to do search-and-rescue,” he said.
Velasquez also stressed the importance of other safety tips kayakers should consider before hitting the waterways, such as wearing life jackets.
“They should always know their environment. Make sure they’re not kayaking in an area that’s too extreme for them. If you’re a beginner, I would suggest a lake and always bring a form of communication, whether it’s a cell phone or radio,” he said.
The Coast Guard monitors Channel 16, which is used for distress calls, 24/7.
In case you do go missing while kayaking, Velasquez says it’s also important to have a float plan, which details the route you’ll take. That can be left with family and friends or you can upload it to the Coast Guard’s mobile app, which also includes safety checks and the ability to request emergency assistance.
You can obtain a labeling sticker from the Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner, which also conducts safety checks or through the Coast Guard’s app.
For more information, click here.
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