Boating education is paramount to saving lives

Q: I acquired a boat recently and would like to know more about the “Boating Safety Class” held by the U.S. Coast Guard in Acworth. Can you help me?

A: The class you are asking about is a one-day class called Boat America taught by staff officer for public education and vice commander of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Unity (Flotilla 22) Greg Fonzeno in Acworth.

Georgia is one of the many states that require a boater safety class. For those born after Jan. 1, 1998, completion of a boating education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is required before operating a motorized vessel on the state’s waters, according to www.gadnrie.org.

“Without brakes, signals, seat belts and the like, taking to the water can prove to be very dangerous, if not fatal, if not properly educated or driven,” Fonzeno said.

Boat America, the monthly one-day class, covers such topics as: legal requirements, navigating the waterways, float plan and boating emergencies/safety, according to the vice commander.

He understands that people like online courses because they are flexible and quick, but Fonzeno likes the classroom setting.

In Boat America, “You get Coast Guard trained instructors, a conversation of experience from boaters where people are learning from each other, and hands-on demonstrations,” the commander said. “The one big thing we really emphasize is although the law states that the life jacket needs to be in your reach, it really needs to be on you the whole time.

“In the last five years there have been 21 drownings at Lake Allatoona. Not one of those people had a life jacket on which would have made a difference.”

Classes are currently on hold as the Coast Guard Auxiliary remains in stand-down from all classroom activities during the COVID 19 situation. Once the Coast Guard releases the Auxiliary, they look forward to getting back into the classroom with the boating public.

Location: Roberts School Community and Education Center, 4681 School Street, Acworth. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Tentative dates: June 6, July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12.

For more information, visit cgaux.org or email Greg Fonzeno at flotilla22pe@gmail.com.

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