NEW ORLEANS – Duck hunting season starts this weekend and the Coast Guard wants to reduce the number of boating accidents by making folks aware of safety requirements and procedures.
At least 3 people have died since 2016 because of boating accidents while hunting. On Thursday (Nov. 7), the Coast Guard took reporters on a search and rescue demonstration to stress the importance of boater safety.
In one scenario, the crew of an MH- 65 Dolphin Helicopter searched for a hidden boat on the Intracoastal Waterway in New Orleans East.
“They’re gonna try to locate a duck hunting vessel that’s been camouflaged in a scenario that might be similar to what they might experience during duck hunting season if a vessel came under distress,” Officer John Michelli told WGNO.
The pilots ran a search pattern to locate the boat. And the boaters gave the rescue team some help– by wearing reflective gear and lighting a flair to signal for help. The demonstration also highlighted the use of kill switches so the boater is able to stop at the drop of a dime.
“Just make sure you have all your safety gear,” duck hunter, Brian Cook shared. “Make sure you have all your Coast Guard requirements.”
In August, Brian and his cousin had to be rescued after his boat got stuck in the marsh. He says being prepared was the key.
“If the Coast Guard wouldn’t have come out there, I mean, we’d probably still be sitting on the boat waiting for help.”
Life jackets, throw cushions, and some type of sound device are required for boat operators, but a hand-held radio helped in the rescue.
“Wear the proper safety equipment. Have the ability to communicate with us in the event that you do get in trouble,” says Coast Guard team leader Scott Talbot.
“Cellphones a lot of times don’t have signal in a lot of the areas that people duck hunt. Having a VHF radio can hugely increase your chances of getting in touch with us in the event you need help.”