RBS Outreach Directorate News

Statements of policy or procedure provided by members of the Chief Director's office, national elected officers, or department directors posted on this webpage should be regarded as official statements.

New Instructional Resource on Emergency Signaling

The RBS Outreach Directorate is pleased to announce a new partnership with Orion Signals, a leading manufacturer of flares and other emergency signaling devices. Orion is offering Auxiliarists a free “Safety Awareness Kit.”

Orion Safety Information

Orion Safety Information

This kit includes laminated flare charts (Visual Distress Signal Guides), ‘Saved by the Signal’ brochures, and some useful “Upcoming Vessel Safety Check” posters. It also includes rebate coupons that Auxiliarists can use when purchasing needed Orion safety products.

To enroll in the program, Auxiliarists should visit this site.

In the Guestbook window, enter your name and mailing address.

Clicking “Submit” will launch a short introductory video, followed by a 20 minute instructional video (which you can pause at any time). This 20 minute video is a tremendous resource to deepen your understanding of the various types of marine flares and the proper use of each. It’s so comprehensive that it can even be used for Auxiliary Member Training. As you watch the video, take careful notes — every Auxiliarist will learn several useful pointers from this video, and chances are that you will not pass the questionnaire (required to recieve your Orion RBS Kit) unless you do.

After the video, a 20 question review of the video begins. Answer the questions with a passiing ratio, and you will receive your Orion Safety Kit, directly from Orion. More importantly, you will be a better Auxiliarist, Vessel Examiner, Program Visitor, and/or Instructor.

The RBS Outreach (“B”) Directorate sincerely thanks Orion for helping to make us all better Auxiliarists by increasing the knowledge we pass along to the boating public.

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Emergency Recall of Propane Cylinders

The US Dept of Transportation (DOT) has just announced a recall of 55,000 propane cylinders manufactured by the Lite Cylinder Company with any of the numbers M5729, DOT-SP 14562, DOT–SP 13957 or DOT-SP 13105 as they may leak flammable gas or explode.

This information should be checked on any boat with a propane cylinder (or other user of propane cylinders). We believe that this information may have greatest applicability to houseboats but may be found anywhere propane is used.

Additional identification information and disposition instructions are contained in this PDF file and this web site.

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“If Found” Stickers Available for Paddlecraft Again

"If Found" sticker

“If Found” sticker.

Through their Safe Boating Campaign resource page, the National Safe Boating Council has made paddle craft “If Found” stickers available to Auxiliary Flotillas and members in packs of 100, free of charge. These weatherproof stickers have proven to be invaluable to emergency responders when paddle craft are found adrift without an operator. Each sticker has room for the vessel owner’s name and two phone numbers.

While at the NSBC website you might want to check out the other free safe boating materials that are available and request some at the same time.

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Coast Guard Looking For Volunteers To Support Boy Scout Jamboree

The Coast Guard has been asked to support the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, which will be held at the Bechtel Summit Reserve, Beckley, West Virginia, from 15-24 July 2013. The National Scout Jamboree brings together Boy Scouts, venturers, and their adult leaders for training and unique outdoor adventures and experiences. This years Jamboree will be a historical event as it will be first time the Jamboree will be held at the Boy Scouts of Americas (BSA) new 10,000 acre high adventure site. The total number of Scouts attending is expected to exceed 40,000 with more than 50,000 additional visitors.

This high visibility event is a prime opportunity for the Coast Guard to reach a large number of people who are interested in boating safety, maritime environmental stewardship, and maritime laws and regulations.

RDML Dan Abel, the Flag sponsor, has been tasked by the Vice Commandant to coordinate the Coast Guards support of this event. CDR Jeff Westling has been designated as the Coast Guards National Scout Jamboree (NSJ) Task Force (TF) commander and will be in charge of team Coast Guard participation at the Jamboree. The deputy task force commander is LT Jonathan Schafler. Task force members will be selected from active duty, reserve, auxiliary, civilian and retired personnel.

Due to the short preparation time available, task force members are needed immediately to fill various leadership, liaison and staff positions in the following functional areas:

  • Administration
  • Merit Badges
  • Sea Scouts
  • Coast Guard Exhibits
  • External CG Forces
  • Communications
  • Public Affairs, and
  • Logistics

The leadership team will develop and manage strategies for achieving the Coast Guards NSJ desired end state and provide operational level guidance to the task force commander who will exert tactical control through functional area and individual task leaders.

Task leaders will be needed in the following areas:

  • NORTHCOM liaison. Provide direct communication for establishing and maintaining mutual understanding and cooperation with USNORTHCOM and subordinate staffs.
  • Transportation manager. Arrange for and schedule the usage of government vehicles.
  • Berthing/meals coordinator. Coordinate meals planning, and act as master at arms for assigned berthing space(s).
  • Merit badge lead. Develop lesson plans and ensure the availability of necessary teaching aids for their respective merit badges.
  • Exhibits coordinator. Arrange for the scheduling, set up, and removal of USCG displays. Each CG exhibit will have a lead exhibitor with staff to showcase Coast Guard missions to NSJ participants and visitors.
  • Safety advisor. Advise NSJ TF commander on all safety related issues. Evaluate USCG sponsored events and stations to ensure compliance with appropriate safety standards.
  • Medical support coordinator. Ensure all participants have current medicals. Coordinate medical issues between USCG, BSA, and USNORTHCOM. Provide onboard medical advice to NSJ TF commander.

Those members interested in this unique volunteer opportunity require command approval and must submit same to the POC listed below NLT 22 May 2013. The deadline for the quick-fill positions in Paragraph 3 is NLT 15 May 2013. Requests for the task force selection must be submitted via email with info copy to their immediate supervisor, and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Rank/rate/position description and contact information
  • Present unit and description of duties
  • CG experience and specialty, if any
  • Name and contact information of supervisor
  • Description of current or previous scouting experience, including Jamborees
  • Highest scouting rank held, if any
  • A list of all scouting training and certifications, if any, including merit badge counselor
  • Desired position(s) on Jamboree task force
  • A statement as to the ability of member to participate full time on the task force during the Jamboree period 13-25 July, 2013, to include set-up and tear-down of exhibits
  • Acknowledgement that CG NSJ TF members must comply with the BSA health and weight/body fat standards required for all BSA adult participants. Details can be found here

Consumption of alcohol onboard the Summit will not be permitted in accordance with BSA policy. Use of tobacco products will be allowed only in authorized locations and not while interacting with Scouts and visitors in accordance with BSA policy.

Task force members will be notified by email of their selection.

In order to attend, all task force members will need to have permissive orders, or equivalent, from their command and be required to pay out of pocket for the trip to/from the Jamboree site. Travel costs, berthing, meals and incidental expenses will not be reimbursed. While all efforts are being made to contain costs, members should anticipate costs up to approximately 600 dollars for the duration of the event, excluding individual transportation expenses. Anticipate berthing onsite at the Jamboree in tents with ambient air showers or possibly at a West Virginia National Guard armory. CG NSJ TF members will purchase meals from the BSA and/or DOD/WVARNG dining facility.

Reservists selected shall be authorized one unpaid readiness management period (RMP) per day IAW Ref. A, CH.2.a.5. Travel and per diem will not be reimbursed.

For Civilians: DHS MD 254-01 limits employees to 40 hours of administrative leave (excused absence) per leave year for participation in mission-related volunteer activities, which may include certain volunteer activities related to the Jamboree.

Civilian volunteers and their supervisors should contact CDR Westling to see if administrative leave is authorized. If not authorized, or if you have already used a portion your available 40 hours of administrative leave, the balance of the time needed to volunteer for the Jamboree will need to be made up from annual leave, accrued compensatory time off or earned credit hours (if available), or leave without pay.

POCs are CDR Jeff Westling (252)335-6535/ jeffrey.c.westling(at)uscg.mil or LT Jonathan Schafler (757) 672-7854/ jonathan.i.schafler(at)uscg.mil

RDML Steven D. Poulin, Director, Governmental and Public Affairs, sends.

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Spring 2013 Issue of WAVES Published

The latest issue of WAVES, the RBS Outreach watercraft and vessel safety newsletter, has now been posted to the Newsletter page (you can download the PDF directly here). It includes a number of stories of interest to everyone involved in the mission of recreational boating safety, including tips for improving your flotilla’s National Safe Boating Week activities.

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Safety Alerts: Counterfeit Fire Extinguishers and Bow Riding

The US Coast Guard has just issued two new safety alerts that all recreational boaters should heed.

The first alert describes the discovery of counterfeit fire extinguishers, and begins this way:

The Coast Guard has recently become aware of counterfeits of U.S. Coast Guard approved portable fire extinguishers manufactured by Amerex Corporation and Buckeye Fire Equipment. Both companies are major producers of genuine approved fire extinguishing equipment and serve a worldwide market. These counterfeit extinguishers present a significant safety hazard. Their capability to extinguish a fire is unproven; they may be charged with a powdery substance that is not a fire extinguishing agent, the pressure cylinder is not DOT approved, and the pressure gauge may not function or give false readings…

The second alert pertains to bow-riding in heavy weather:

Several passengers standing in the bow pulpit of a 106’ inspected whale watching vessel were injured while underway. The vessel struck a large wave, its bow rose and slammed down causing the passengers in the pulpit to lose their balance and fall to the deck. Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to a broken patella (knee) and jaw. Although there were many other passengers on board at the time, only the passengers standing in the pulpit were injured…

You can download and read copies of both alerts as a printable PDF here.

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Gear up for safety—take a paddle sport class!

When paddlers ask the question “What’s the next piece of gear I should get?”, Neil Schulman answers “Take a course.”  In the 2013 Annual Paddling Buyer’s Guide, Schulman’s Rock the Boat column questions why paddlers spend thousands of dollars for equipment, but resist taking formal instruction. He describes four recent incidents in his home waters which resulted in the destruction of two boats and required Coast Guard rescues of five persons.  The causes of these incidents, he says, were not equipment problems: they were “errors in seamanship, decision-making and execution–things that can be learned and practiced, but not purchased.” Coast Guard Auxiliarists can help paddlers improve their knowledge this winter by offering Paddle Sports America classes in their locale for canoeists, stand up paddlers and white water and sea kayakers.

The courseware is available for download on the Auxiliary web site here.  This three to four hour classroom instruction provides the basics of paddle sport safety.  Topics include:  Know Your Paddlecraft – parts of a canoe and kayak; understanding paddlecraft characteristics such as basic types, hull shapes hull materials, lengths and widths and weights; selecting your paddle for both canoe and kayak; Before You Get Underway – knowing your paddlecraft’s capacity and how to file a float plan; transporting your paddlecraft; conducting a pre-departure check; dressing for a safe trip; loading gear in a canoe or kayak; storing paddle craft; the responsibilities when paddling with others; Operating Your Boat Safely – how to enter and exit a canoe or kayak safely; securing the paddlecraft and sharing the waterways with others; the U. S. Aids to Navigation System (ATONS); learning about local hazards on waterways, The Legal Requirements of Boating -vessel registration, hull identification numbers and who may operate a paddlecraft; unlawful operation of paddlecraft; Homeland Security restrictions; policies on alcohol and drugs. Life jackets; navigation lights; sound-producing devices and visual distress signals; protection of environment and what to do if in a boating accident. (State specific information may be added at the end of this chapter.); and Boating Emergencies… What to Do – minimizing the risk of drowning, capsizing, swamping or falling overboard; emergency techniques; how to deal with cold water immersion and hypothermia; understanding heat related illness; dehydration; handling weather emergencies.

The Buyer’s Guide, published in Canada, is a partner of the American Canoe Association.

Don Goff, BC-BLC

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Cold Weather? Life Jackets Now Required in 5 States

The American Canoe Association newsletter reports there are new  life jacket mandatory wear laws taking effect in five states in 2013.  These are for the cold weather/cold water months.


Lifejackets must be worn by anyone in a manually propelled vessel from October 1 through May 31 (must be a Type I, II, III, V or V-hybrid)


All persons canoeing or kayaking on the Saco River between Hiram Dam and the Atlantic Ocean between January 1 and June 1st must be wearing a lifejacket.


Lifejackets must be worn from September 15 – May 15 when operating a canoe or kayak.

New York

No owner or operator of a pleasure vessel less than twenty-one feet, including rowboats, canoes, and kayaks shall permit its operation, between November 1st and May 1st, unless each person on board such vessel is wearing a securely fastened United States Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device of an appropriate size when such vessel is underway.


Beginning November 1 and lasting through April 30, boaters are required to wear a lifejacket while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak

Posted by: Don Goff, BC-BLC

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The latest issue of Waves, the RBS Outreach watercraft and vessel safety newsletter, has now been posted to the Newsletter link on our website. It is chock full of stories of interest to everyone involved in the mission of recreational boating safety.

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Get My Drift?

When a paddle craft – canoe, kayak, or paddleboard – is found adrift, the first question is whether someone was aboard or whether it simply blew or floated away. Until the latter is confirmed, it must be assumed that someone was aboard and no longer is. A SAR mission must go out and search until the owner/operator can be contacted and confirms that the craft was merely adrift and that everyone is safe.

The problem is that, unlike sail and power boats, most jurisdictions do not require registration numbers on all paddle craft. Without the familiar state coded numbers and letters on the bow, it is difficult to determine who the owner is and call them, unless they have taken action to identify themselves by putting their name and a telephone number on the craft. Few do.

Auxiliarists can help alleviate this problem through education and training and while doing vessel exams. Encourage paddle craft owners to permanently affix their name, a cell phone number, and a land line telephone number to their craft in a visible place. It doesn’t have to be large, just legible.

An orange self-adhesive label with contact information spaces may be available from your District Recreational Boating Safety coordinator (on the Gold side). These stickers can be filled in using a magic marker, paint stick, or nail polish and applied to the hull or deck of the paddle craft. Get them by asking your materials person to inquire through the leadership and management chain.

With this identification aboard, a SAR crew finding the craft can immediately call and determine the status of the owner. If no answer, they will perform a standard search, according to conditions. But when the owner is found to be safe, the Coast Guard can save man hours and fuel, and be available for a true distress situation. VE’s, PE’s, and PA’s are encouraged to pass the word to the paddling community.

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