Unattended, unmanned, and adrift kayaks have become a common occurrence in the USA. When a kayak or other small craft is found adrift, U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities must respond, which involves considerable cost and ties up rescue personnel.
As a part of Operation Paddle Smart, the Coast Guard is providing small, bright orange, waterproof stickers that are reflective and have space for the owner’s name and two phone numbers.
When attached to a vessel, these stickers can help rescuers determine the best search area to begin looking for a mariner in distress or return a lost vessel that has simply drifted away.
Contact information on a paddle crafts can help search and rescue responders determine if a true emergency exists and save tax payers thousands of dollars in unnecessary searches because a single phone call can determine if there is someone in distress or not.
The Coast Guard recommends owners place their name and two contact numbers on their kayak or other small craft, make sure the correct safety equipment is on board, file a float plan, and wear a life jacket.
The Coast Guard also recommends that paddlecraft be secured when not in use. Merely setting a paddle craft on a rack or dock does not mean it is secure as strong winds can blow a paddle craft into the water.
Since Memorial Day, the Coast Guard First District command center in Boston executed roughly 80 calls involving unmanned and adrift paddle craft cases.
Local authorities also respond to these cases.
A typical Coast Guard search and rescue case can involve a helicopter and two or more station boats. Those assets together cost more than $24,000 of tax dollars per hour. That does not include the salary of the crews or the people behind the scenes.
Paddlesports enthusiasts can obtain free paddlesmart stickers by contacting their local U.S. Coast Guard station.
source: U.S. Coast Guard First District