STURGEON BAY (WLUK) -- Memorial Day weekend is approaching and many people will head to the water in Northeast Wisconsin.
The Sturgeon Bay U.S. Coast Guard station is gearing up.
Boatswains Mate 1st Class, T.J. Barnes, says the team can respond to more than 20 search and rescue calls during a busy weekend.
He says the biggest problem is inexperience.
"A lot of tourism. So you can come into town and rent a boat for the weekend but you've never driven a boat in your life and you don't know that specific area and any of the danger zones.. a lot of people will run into a rock or they'll encounter an issue with their boat. Their battery dies or they run out of gas," said Barnes.
He says it’s important to keep a few points in mind.
"Make sure you have all of the required personal protective equipment on your vessel and then make sure you have a cell phone or radio in service to make sure you can contact the coast guard or local dispatch in case something does happen," said Barnes.
Barnes says no matter if you’re going out on a holiday weekend or a quiet summer day, you should let someone know what your plan is.
"Any points of contact let them know when you're going out and when you're going to be back. So if you are late and don't show up they can get the troops rallied and we can get a boat out looking for you," said Barnes.
Barnes stresses the U.S. Coast Guard stops people for one main reason.
"It's mostly search and rescue prevention it's mostly a focus on people going out on the boats making sure they have all the gear that's required of them," said Barnes.
Overall he says no matter if you’re swimming or floating, or boating safety should be your first priority.
National Safe Boating Week is May 20-26, the official launch of the 2023 Safe Boating Campaign.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show drowning as the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities.