It’s spring time and National Safe Boating Week is right around the corner. You can celebrate and recognize National Safe Boating Week beginning this Saturday, May 16 through Friday, May 22, 2020. Although you may not be allowed out on the water by this weekend, there are many ways you can support this great cause for boating safety. We discussed this year’s activation with Yvonne Pentz, Communications Director of the National Safe Boating Council. Read the short Q&A below to learn more about this year’s plan and new challenges in 2020.
US Sailing: How were you able to collect all the knowledge and expert advice to create materials for Safe Boating Week during COVID1-19? How did you pivot so quickly to reboot the plan for 2020?
Yvonne: COVID-19 is forcing everyone to navigate uncharted waters. At its heart, the Safe Boating Campaign is a grassroots effort, thanks to thousands of partners around the world. In mid-March, we knew we had to shift gears quickly from a mix of in-person events and digital outreach to reaching boaters with safety messages on social media and other digital formats in accordance with CDC recommendations.
We coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, industry partners (such as MRAA and RBFF), state agencies, law enforcement, and others to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on National Safe Boating Week and the summer boating season.
In many areas, the water is open, however, it is more important than ever that boaters are responsible to limit unnecessary risk not only to themselves, but to other boaters, law enforcement, and first responders. Messaging and outreach materials were created to address social distancing and CDC guidelines. We have seen a dramatic increase in website visits and social media engagement. Boaters are looking for information, so we adapted to share important boating safety information and tips with boaters in a digital format.
US Sailing: What are the biggest takeaways from this edition of Safe Boating Week?
Yvonne: Boaters will be boaters, and in many areas there has been an increase in boating activity for this time of year. They are actively looking online for information about how to social distance and go boating. It is important for this year’s National Safe Boating Week that we address the current world we live in, and how to safely enjoy boating where there is water access.