When Supervisor Scott Russell got a call from Capt. Joseph Frohnhoefer, founder of Southold-based boat rescue company , asking him to wear his life jack to work on Friday, the supervisor questioned the captain’s motives.
“I thought maybe he thought I was over my head in the supervisor’s office,” Russell joked at a Friday press conference held outside of the Sea Tow office “But now I get it. There are so many unavoidable tragedies in life — we should do what we can to prevent the avoidable ones.”
Every year on the day before National Safe Boating Week starts, Frohnhoefer and company really do wear their life jackets to work — even if they’re not on the water — and promote others to do the same. National Weather Service and the National Safe Boating Council created National Safe Boating Week, which runs May 19 through 25 this year, to help promote safe boating practices the week before Memorial Day Weekend, when boating season lurches into high gear.
At Friday’s press conference, Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow Foundation Director Gail Kult, Supervisor Russell, Chief Martin Flatley, representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard and Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine all spoke of the importance of life jackets. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Commander Joe Vojvodich recommended that boaters do safety checks on their boats and take a boater safety class to brush up before hitting the water with friends and family this summer.
And everyone in the crowd — including 7-month-old Paige Frohnhoefer, was wearing different designs of life jackets. Gail Kult wore a belt inflatable life jacket — a more discrete form of flotation device.
“Some people are worried about tan lines or being too hot in the bulkier life jackets, but they don’t have to worry with this one,” she said.
Displays inside Sea Town headquarters included a boater safety learning center for kids and the new Sea Tow app for smartphones.
“It’s really the AAA for boaters and a very inexpensive service,” said Sea Tow’s Kerry Gillick Goldberg, who was helping to promote the event. “We’re making a big push to promote boater safetly this year and next.”
Frohnhoefer founded Sea Tow in 1983 after the U.S Coast Guard stopped responding to non-emergency calls. The company now has nearly 100 locations across the U.S. with additional offices in Europe, Australia and the Caribbean.
"We normally get about 600 calls a day from around the country,” Frohnhoefer said. “We wear our life jackets to work every day, that’s what we do here. But we lost 700 people nationwide on the water last year — a lot of kayak accidents. So please — wear your life jackets too.”
Sea Tow’s Top 5 Boating Safety Tips:
1) Wear a life jacket: Life jackets save lives, but only if you wear them! Children under the age of 13 are required by law to wear lifejackets while boating.
2) Designate a sober skipper: Booze and boats don’t mix!
3) Carry a VHF Radio and know how to use it: Don’t rely on just a cell phone! Cell service is often spotty or nonexistent out on the water. Be sure to perform a radio check to ensure your VHF is operational via the new free Sea Tow Automated Radio Check service: www.seatow.com/boating-safety/automated-radio-checks
5) Take a boating safety course: These classes offer something for everyone, even if you’re an experienced boater. A list of all of the approved boating safety courses offered nationwide can be found at www.nasbla.net/courseListing.php
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