The U.S. Coast Guard allowed ABC Action News to ride along as it prepares for Boating Safety Week.
We rode on a 47-foot motor lifeboat and was warned by the Coast Guard: Don’t push the red button on the radio unless it’s a real emergency.
"As a matter of fact this is not a joke. This DSC button alerts the Coast Guard you are in distress. It activates our rescue 21 system and launches out assets,” Petty Officer Michael De Nyse said.
As we were on patrol, the Coast Guard received a distress call activated by a red emergency button. A helicopter lifted a man from a boat seven miles off shore and flew him to the hospital after he suffered a heart attack.
De Nyse said more boaters are pushing the emergency button just to test the radio, wasting precious time and resources.
In addition to emergency response, the Coast Guard will step up policing the water for boater safety week.
When officers make a stop, the Coast Guard wants to make sure that there are lifejackets on board. They also want to make sure the operator of the boat is not drunk.
Drinking and boating results in a ticket, points against your driver’s license and possibly jail time. It will increase your driving insurance as if you were in a car.
Boater Joe Corey knows all of this and said his wife is in charge of safety on their boat.
"We keep pretty much current with flares, life preservers, and fire extinguishers and all the required stuff," he said.
Coast Guard Mechanical Technician Lydia Pinkham says, "Those could be the difference between us finding them and not finding them. [The] difference between life and death."
Again the coast guard stresses have your safety gear, and also don't push the emergency button on the radio just to test it.