South Whidbey Fire/EMS, along with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) urge the labeling of paddle craft for owner responsibility on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. South Whidbey Fire/EMS, in partnership with the US Coast Guard, has a supply of these free "If Found" stickers, and will be happy to give you one for each paddle craft you have. You can stop by our main station at 5579 Bayview Road in Langley to pick up your stickers. Or, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get one sent to you.
Reports of unmanned and adrift paddle craft divert federal, state, and local response boat and air crews on hundreds of dangerous and costly searches that turn out to be false alarms. Since 2016, 13th Coast Guard District aircraft and vessels have launched on 746 individual cases of vessels reported capsized and adrift. All were unmanned and adrift, not resulting in actual distress. Each case represents a minimum cost of approximately $40,000 to the taxpayers to respond and conduct searches for possible persons in the water. For the 13th District, this accounts for an operational cost of approximately $29,840,000.
The Coast Guard treats every distress call and report of an unmanned paddle craft as if a real life is at stake.
"Unmanned adrift vessel search and rescue responses are the number 4 response activity in the Coast Guard nationwide" says Dan Shipman, recreational boating program specialist for the 13th District. "By properly securing your small craft on the beach, dock, or your vessel from being adrift, you're not only saving taxpayers' dollars, you are helping protect your property, the environment, and possibly the life of someone who is actually in need of assistance."
South Whidbey Fire/EMS and the United States Coast Guard urge the public to do the following three things:
1. Help us help you find your kayak. MARK IT! Take responsibility for your paddle craft by labeling with an "If Found" sticker. This label allows responders to confirm if someone is actually in trouble and collect information to help search efforts.
2. Take responsibility for recovering your paddle craft. Unmanned and adrift kayaks, canoes, dinghies, and rowboats often cause hazards to navigation in the waterways and increase the level of risk and fatigue on response crews tasked to find the owners associated with the unmanned paddle craft.
3. Do your part to prevent false alarms. First responders deployed in search of the occupants of unmanned paddle craft divert resources away from actual lives in distress.