The U.S. Coast Guard has launched a Great Lakes safe boating awareness effort focused on paddlesports.

The Coast Guard Ninth District’s “Paddles Up Great Lakes” campaign begins Labor Day weekend and runs through Sept. 10.

The Coast Guard says that paddlesports such as canoeing and kayaking are increasingly popular, but some people take to the water with little or no awareness of needed safety equipment or safe paddling practices.

Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel, along with some federal, state and local participants, will pass out safety and education information as well as self-adhesive identification stickers for boats.

The stickers can help marine patrol and rescue workers when a boat is found empty and adrift on the water.

The campaign started the same weekend a Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued two kayakers who were in danger of drowning near Sleeping Bear Dunes.

A statement from the Coast Guard says an employee with the National Park Service called for help after “spotting the men who got into trouble when weather conditions on Lake Michigan deteriorated and their kayaks reportedly began taking on water.”

Both kayakers were wearing life jackets and that probably saved their lives, according to Lt. j.g. Skylar Swenson, co-pilot aboard the helicopter.

The kayakers were dealing with six to ten foot waves.

Both kayakers were conscious and responsive, but exhausted and “shivering uncontrollably” while being flown to shore. They were taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

The aircrew estimated that the men were in the water for at least one hour.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.


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