Coast Guard says labels essential to preventing needless ocean searches


It’s a case that often comes up for the U.S. Coast Guard.

A piece of equipment is found in the water with no one around.

The Coast Guard says that scenario has played out 10 times since December 2016, spending time, money, and resources searching for the owners of five kayaks, two dive floats, a paddle board, bodyboard, and pontoon boat.

Five of those cases occurred in the last two weeks.

Now that we’re in the peak of summer, there are a few things you can do to prevent a needless search.

The first thing: Make sure your ocean equipment is properly labeled. You can get a free “If Found” decal from local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices, and any local boating supply store.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Litton says this applies to “anybody who spends their time out in the water, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing. They should have a sticker on their equipment.”

Whether you use the actual sticker or not, officials urge you to label your equipment or craft with your name, phone number, address, and contact information using a waterproof marker.

Another thing you should do: Carry a personal locator beacon when you’re in the water.

“If it gets wet or activated while you are in the water, it is going to send out your location. Give us your location and we will come find you,” Litton said.

The U.S. Coast Guard recently found a dive flag and buoy not far from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

“(It) was a spear fisherman’s gear that got away and we ended up searching for him for hours, and we put this information on the news and he called in and claimed it as his,” Litton said.

Click here for more information or call the Coast Guard Auxiliary Office in Honolulu at (808) 535-3434 or the External Affairs Office at (808) 535-3230.

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