Paddle Safe Week Launches Today

July 20 through 28 is Paddle Safe Week and the Seattle Police Department will be supporting efforts to promote safe paddling practices.

According to the U.S Coast Guard, in 2017, 138 people died while kayaking or canoeing, and 90 percent of those fatalities were due to drowning. In many incidents, life jackets were onboard but not worn. Since 2012, close to half of all boating fatalities in Washington state involved paddlecraft. The top factors contributing to fatal accidents were failure to wear a life jacket, operator inattention and inexperience, alcohol and drug use, hazardous waters, weather conditions and navigation rule violations.

The following safety tips are recommended for paddlers.

Get educated
Know the laws and keep yourself and others safe. At a minimum, take a course to increase your knowledge of paddlesport safety, emergency procedures, and navigational rules. You can find classes through local clubs and outfitters, city and county parks and recreation departments and online.

Always wear a life jacket
State law requires all vessels, including canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards, to have at least one properly fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. And all children, age 12 and younger, are required to wear life jackets at all times. Modern, comfortable life jackets are tailored specifically for paddlesports. No matter your age and skill level, you’re encouraged to wear a life jacket every time you go out on the water.

Carry essential gear

You should carry essentials for safety, emergency communications, and comfort. State law requires carrying a sound producing device, such as a whistle – even on a stand-up paddleboard. Professional paddlers recommend carrying a cell phone (in a waterproof bag) and, on coastal waters, a VHF marine radio. In addition to items required by law, you should wear sun protection and bring a headlamp with extra batteries, an extra paddle and bilge pump (tool to bail out water if needed), dry bag and hydrating fluids. Other essentials depend on the type of waterway and length of trip and should be researched in advance.

Avoid alcohol and drugs
Situational awareness is key for safety on the water. That means staying alert at all times. Operating any vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, is not only unsafe—it’s illegal. Washington state’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) law applies to all boats including kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, rowboats and inflatable fishing rafts.

Check and understand the weather
Check the weather frequently before and during your trip, keeping an eye on current conditions and forecasts. Check warnings, weather conditions, wind and wave forecasts, tides and current conditions or river flows. It’s also important to understand how each of these elements affects your ability to operate your vessel. Seek information from locals in the know, heed any warnings and avoid navigating in unsafe areas. The National Weather Service (NOAA Weather Radio) broadcasts are marine band and standalone weather radios.

Protect against cold-water shock

Falling into water under 60 degrees is dangerous, and many of Washington’s waters remain below 60 degrees all year — including lakes and rivers — even during hot weather. The biggest risk is not hypothermia but cold-water shock, which occurs in the first stage of immersion. Paddlecraft have a higher risk of capsizing. Avoid cotton, and wear synthetic materials when a wet or dry suit is not available. Be prepared and always wear a life jacket.

Be visible to other boaters
Paddlecraft sit low on the water, making them difficult for other boaters to see. Paddle to be seen: Wear bright neon and contrasting colors, put highly reflective tape on paddles, use a flagpole and carry a bright light.

File a float plan
Before you head out, study your intended route and let someone know your plans. Include the four W’s — who, where, when, what to do — the names of everyone going, the planned route, what time you’re going and returning and what to do if you don’t return when expected. Make this a routine every time you go out on the water.

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Harbor Patrol Rescues Two Kayakers on Lake Washington During Windstorm

A man and a woman are recovering after being rescued by the Harbor Patrol after they were observed in distress yesterday afternoon while boating on Lake Washington.

Shortly after 4:00 pm, during a windstorm, officers aboard a Harbor Patrol boat saw the two kayakers off Magnuson Park.  The winds at the time were gusting near 50 mph and the waves on the lake were significant.  It appeared that the two people were in distress.  The first kayaker, a 33-year-old woman, was pulled onto the patrol boat.  She was exhibiting signs of hypothermia, and immediately brought into the warm cabin of the boat.  The second person, a 32-year-old man, was able to paddle back to shore on his own.  The Seattle Fire Department met the patrol boat near Magnuson and treated both individuals for hypothermia.  Both were treated and released from the scene.  The couple told officers they had been on the water for approximately three hours.

Harbor Units Searching For Man Who Fell From Boat Into Lake Union

Witnesses began calling 911 at 6:53 a.m. Sunday to report a noise disturbance coming from a boat in the waters of Lake Union.  Harbor patrol officers responded and found several people aboard a 25-foot boat who were yelling for assistance. The people said that one of the passengers jumped into the water and never surfaced.

Witnesses on the shore said the boat was entering the test course with a few people sitting on the bow.  They said the boat appeared to speed up, tossing one of the people from the boat.

Harbor officers marked three possible locations for where the man was last seen. Divers searched the area for hours and used sonar but were unable to locate the man.  Divers will return to the area over the next few days to continue their search.


Harbor Patrol Rescues Two Men from Overturned Sailboat on Lake Washington

Two men are recovering today thanks to the quick action of Harbor Patrol officers yesterday evening on Lake Washington.

On Tuesday, at approximately 5:35 pm, Harbor Patrol Boat 6 responded to a 911 call of an overturned sailboat and two people in the water on Lake Washington, just north of Leschi. Harbor 6 responded, as well as a couple of patrol cars from the land side.  Harbor 6 arrived and located the two men, both 60-years-old, in the water.  One man was on the overturned hull section of the sailboat and the other was clinging to the boat.  Both men were visibly shaking from exposure to the cold water.  The officers aboard Harbor 6 pulled the men out of the water and brought them aboard the patrol boat.  The officers provided them with blankets and transported them to the waiting Seattle Fire Department medics at the Madrona dock.

Seattle Fire evaluated the men and determined they did not need further medical aid.  The officers aboard Harbor 6 returned to the overturned sailboat, righted it, and towed it back to the Leschi dock.  The officers then assisted the men with securing their sailboat in the dock area.

Officers Save Woman Trapped Under Overturned Boat

A Seattle police dive team pulled a woman from choppy waters in Lake Washington Sunday evening after her 21-foot catamaran flipped in high winds.

Harbor Officers Chuck Farrell and David Leonard arrived within a minute and found the boat still on it’s side and two men in the water.  The victims were yelling that a third person hadn’t surfaced yet and was  trapped under the boat.  The officers then found a 25-year-old woman under the boat. She was unconscious and had been under water for almost six minutes.  Officer Leonard immediately began CPR as Officer Farrell radioed for Seattle Fire Department medics to meet them at the dock.  Medics transported the woman to the hospital for further treatment.

The two men said high winds had flipped their boat, and sent all three passengers–who were wearing life-preservers–into the lake. The 25-year-old may have become trapped under the boat when a rigging wrapped around her leg.

In a second incident earlier Sunday, Harbor Patrol officers also rescued another boater in Lake Washington near Sand Point when his sailboat capsized around 12:30 PM.

Witnesses called 911 when they saw the white sailboat flip, knocking its lone occupant into the water.

Officers arrived and pulled the uninjured man from the lake.  They then towed the boat to the shallows, pumped out the water, and towed the boat to Denny Park.