Hunters urged to increase safety awareness

Hunters heading out into Alaska’s winter wilderness need to increase their safety awareness and prepare accordingly for these trips, U.S. Coast Guard officials say.

This advisory from the Coast Guard and Alaska departments of Fish and Game and Public Safety comes in the wake of the Coast Guard 17th District having to respond to four separate search and rescue missions in early November. The cases involved hunters from Kodiak to Hoonah to Juneau.

Hunter safety tips range from letting friends or family known where the hunting party is heading, when they plan to return and what to do if they are overdue, to avoiding use of alcohol.

More tips from the Coast Guard include packing a global positioning system device to guide the hunters and help rescue personnel local their group, having a satellite phone, In-Reach device or VHF-FM radio; checking the forecasted weather for the entire hunt, dressing in layers to avoid hypothermia, and packing extra clothes for changing weather conditions.

The Coast Guard also advises bringing an emergency kit that includes fire-starting tools and a whistle, bringing extra food and water in case the trip lasts longer than planned, hunting with a companion or group, and following proper gun safety guidelines.

Also advised is having a properly fitting life jacket for traveling by water to a hunting location, following boating regulations on equipment and boat capacities, and having an exposure suit.

For questions about hunting safety contact ADF&G at 1-907-465-4256m or DPS at 207-269-5413. For boating safety questions, contact the 17th Coast Guard District at 907-463-2297.