Author Archives: boatsafe

“It’s time for a Nau-tea-cal Party”

I usually try to avoid discussions about politics but the following article written by Barb Hansen and published by Women’s Outdoor News caught my attention. I’m having a hard time deciding how much of it is sincere and how much is “tongue-in-cheek.” You be the judge.

Capt. Matt

Tis the political season in America. Politicians are running around with grease guns promising to lubricate every squeaky wheel. But have you noticed, they never offer to lubricate the squeaks coming from the recreational boating community. And why is that exactly?

 Maybe it’s because we boaters don’t squeak. We’re self-reliant types. You know the drill. I can still hear my parents: Take personal responsibility. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Save for the future. All that.

 So, I’ve been thinking, maybe we should start squeaking.

 We need an organization. Call it, what?

How about The Nau-tea-cal Party?

 It would be based on boating principles. All members would be expected to remain self-reliant and not spend more than they have. It would also be based on the principal that so long as our elected officials are throwing our money around then they should splurge on us, too.

 Compared to what other squeaky wheels demand, we boaters won’t ask for much.

 For starters, how about a little positive recognition? I propose a National Boating Holiday. This would be a summer holiday. All employees, not just government workers, should get a paid day off to go boating. Wait. Make that a two-day national holiday.

 Instead of spending billions to bail out the auto industry, our politicians could declare that they will not let any boating company fail. Because, where does it say that bailing out an auto company is better than saving a U.S. boat company?

 Washington doesn’t realize it but the country suffers from a huge postal delivery problem. As it stands now the USPS does not deliver to people who live on their boats. If the USPS can deliver bulk mail advertising to a citizen who lives 200 miles from nowhere it can surely deliver to a boat moored out there in the harbor.

 If politicians can spend billions of dollars to pay farmers not to grow something or to reward them when it doesn’t rain, let’s squeak until they give some of that lubricant to marine stores and waterfront restaurants to subsidize some of our favorite things.

 Of course, we need to do something for the children. If high schools can teach Drivers Education, then by golly let’s squeak for Boaters Education. We could have a Department of Boating with such programs as No Boater Left Behind.

 There is so much to do for the children, not just nationally but at the state and local levels. In St. Louis they’re offering parents $900 to enroll their children at one public school. Why not offer parents another $900 to enroll their children in a course about why boaters make better citizens?

 Oh, and let’s demand a Boaters Tax Free Week. All boats, boating gear, boat and fishing charters, accessories, boating clothes and boat shoes would be sales tax-free. I just love those cute boat shoes in all the bright colors. But I digress.

 Commentator Glenn Beck recently put on a rally on the Mall in Washington called, “Restoring Honor.” Well, there are no citizens more honorable than boaters.

 Okay, then, let’s organize our own citizens rally called, “Restoring Fiscal Sanity” and invite mariners from around the world to gather in Fort Myers, Florida in a show of solidarity.

 We’ll dump tea in the harbor, pour rum in our cups and sing R E S P E C T by Aretha Franklin.

 Hey, we could make it into a robo-call that rings in the home of every politician when he or she is eating dinner.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, phone 1-800-262-7939 or visit

  Barb Hansen. Photo courtesy of Bill AuCoin.

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2013 America’s Cup To Use Catamarans

The next edition of the America’s Cup will be held in 2013 and it will use wingsail catamarans, the head of America’s Cup defender BMW Oracle, Russell Coutts, said Monday in Spain.

“We believe this new format and new boat will put the America’s Cup back at the pinnacle of our sport,” the New Zealand skipper told a news conference in the Mediterranean port of Valencia.

The AC72 catamarans will be “pretty special, very powerful and very demanding”, he added.

“These changes will give equal opportunity to competitors and long-term economic stability to all teams and all commercial partners. We promised fairness and innovation and this is what we’ve delivered.”

The America’s Cup traditionally uses monohulls but the last edition held in February was a multihull duel between Oracle and Switzerland’s Alinghi following more than two years of legal wrangling over the rules of the event.

In June organisers carried out tests off the coast of Valencia involving multihulls and monohulls to see what works best on television.

Oracle is expected to announce the host city for the 34th America’s Cup by the end of the year.

San Francisco, where Oracle is based, is widely seen as the preferred venue but Valencia and a port near Rome as well as a a site in the Middle East have also been cited in press reports as possibilities.

Oracle beat Swiss team Alinghi in two races in giant multihulls off Valencia in February.

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Five Knots Every Boater Should Know

There are five basic knots that every boater should know. All knots used by boaters are designed to be easy to tie, take a tremendous amount of strain and then be easy to untie.

The five knots are as follows, and you should practice until you can tie them without thinking about it.

     Cleat Hitch – In order to secure the boat to a dock or secure a line to the boat, you will probably use the cleat hitch. Take the line to the ear of the cleat farthest from where the line comes from (the load). Take one wrap around the base of the cleat and then start a figure eight across the top of the opposite ear. Finish with a half hitch turned under so that the line is coming away from the cleat in the opposite direction from which it came in.
   Bowline – Also called the “king” of knots, the bowline is very versatile. It is used to form a temporary loop in a line which can then be put over a piling or cleat. It can also be used to attach a line to an eye. This knot won’t slip or jam. Start by making an overhand loop which looks like a six (see first figure). With the end of the line, come up through the hole in the six, around the back of the line you’re holding and back down through the hole in the six. Grab the part of the line that went up through the hole and the part of the line that came back down through the hole in one hand, and also the top of the line you were holding in the other, and pull.
     Square knot (reef knot) – Simple to make, the square knot is used for lots of light duty, including tying things down. Start with an overhand knot like you were beginning to tie your shoe. Keeping the ends of the lines in your hand on the same side, cross them again and tie another overhand knot. If you don’t keep them on the same side, you’ll end up with a granny knot, which will jam.
       Round turn and two half hitches – Used to permanently tie to a piling, mooring or ring. Simply take a full turn around the object being tied to and take two half hitches around the line itself. Over and up through and under and down through.
      Clove Hitch – Used to temporarily tie to a piling, this knot can come loose. You may add a couple of half hitches as above to make it more permanent. This knot is simply two loops with an end tucked under.

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EzyBoat – The Folding Boat With Retracting Wheels

EzyBoat in trailer position

Adaptacar in North Devon England has started to stock the EzyBoat, a versatile 4.4m metre fibreglass boat that instantly transforms from a trailer into a fully functioning boat. For the first time boaters have the opportunity to overcome the separate boat trailers or storage problems.

The EzyBoat represents a novel but solid solution to the difficulties normally faced by people using trailer boats. Instead of having a full-sized boat on a separate boat trailer, the EzyBoat folds in half to form its own closed trailer. The wheels can be lifted into the hull when it is launched using a simple lever. Being light and small when folded up it is easy to tow and convenient to store. Upon arrival at the waterfront it can be unfolded by one adult into a spacious 14.4ft fibreglass boat within minutes.

As a result, the EzyBoat lets its owner enjoy more time on the water with less preparation. What’s more, the addition of a sailing kit turns the EzyBoat into a well performing, but still easy to use sailing dinghy.

EzyBoat Underway

Adaptacar’s Managing Director Stuart Courtney added “The EzyBoat really is like no other boat we have seen before. A folding boat of this size, combined with such ease of launching, transport and storage is unheard of. We have already had a tremendous public response following a recent BBC feature of this boat. Now that we have the first boat on display we are looking forward to demonstrating it to interested customers across Devon and beyond”.

About EzyBoat

The EzyBoat is a British invention, further developed and tested in Australia and the United States before returning to Britain for its production launch. It is now being built near Poole in Dorset, United Kingdom. It is built using high-quality woven fibreglass cloth for longevity and an optimal strength to weight ratio. The built-in trailer is entirely made of stainless and hot galvanised steel components to avoid any kind of rusting. Despite the extensive engineering that has gone into this folding boat, it is being marketed at a very competitive price to bring new entrants into the boating world.

Watch this amazing video of the way EzyBoat works.

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Coast Guard Tracks Down Hoax Caller

The Coast Guard has tracked down a hoax caller after multiple calls were made on VHF Channel 16 over the past few months. A local resident of Islamorada, FL, confessed to placing multiple calls over Channel 16.

Since mid-June, the Coast Guard received calls periodically from an individual using the call sign “Ice Station Zebra.” These lengthy calls interrupted search and rescue cases and normal Coast Guard operations. Using the Rescue 21 Radio System, which is normally used for communications and to locate individuals in distress, the Coast Guard triangulated a general area where the calls originated. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office gave the Coast Guard a suspect’s name in the area based on his previous contact with law enforcement.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) arrived at the suspected hoax caller’s residence and found a working VHF radio. The resident signed an agreement to stop broadcasting over hailing and distress frequencies and was informed that making additional false distress calls could subject him to formal action by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard would like to remind individuals that false distress calls place unnecessary risk on would-be rescuers and interfere with legitimate search and rescue cases. False calls also cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. It costs approximately $2,189 per hour to operate a Coast Guard 33-foot response boat, while a helicopter or larger cutter may cost from $13,880 to $14,500 an hour.

Under federal law, knowingly and willfully transmitting a hoax distress call is a felony. It is punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution to the Coast Guard for all costs incurred while responding to the distress.

Remember, channel 16 is the hailing and distress channel only! You can hail another vessel on channel 16 but immediately select a “working channel” to switch to in order to clear channel 16 for other vessels to use. For a list of available channels go to the website.

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Coast Guard Establishes Hudson River Boating Restrictions

NEW YORK-The Coast Guard will establish safety zones on the Hudson and East Rivers for two different maritime events, Sept. 11-12, 2010.

Parts of the Hudson River will be closed to recreational traffic as the Coast Guard enforces a safety zone during the New York Super Boat Grand Prix on the Hudson River, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 12, 2010.

No recreational boats will be allowed passage without prior approval from the Coast Guard Patrol Commander, available on VHF-FM channels 13 and 16. Only boats with official race flags and Statue Cruises will be allowed to enter the safety zone.

The northern line of the safety zone will go from Pier C in Hoboken (40-44.403N – 074-01.478W), to Pier 54 in Manhattan (40-44.357N – 074-00.696W). The southern boundary will stretch from Pier A, Manhattan (40-42.264N -074-01.120W) to the south east corner of the New Jersey Terminal in Liberty State Park (40-42.344N – 074-02.093W).

The Coast Guard will also enforce a 100-yard safety zone around all participants of the Brooklyn Bridge Swim, 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m, Sept. 11, 2010.

An estimated 400 swimmers will be entering the water just south of the Manhattan Bridge and going back ashore just south of the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mariners that need clarification of safety zones or additional information contact:

  • Lt. William George at (347) 552-0313
  • Lt. j.g. Eunice James at (718) 354-4163
  • BM1 Paul Church at (718) 354-4197

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Electric Shock Drowning

Note the very small melt in the AC hot wire. This tiny connection between the AC and DC systems was all it took for AC electricity to find a path to the water.

Electric shock drowning is often the result of a situation similar to a hair dryer falling into a bathtub; in these cases the hair dryer is a boat and the bathtub is a lake. The cause is often an undetected ground fault that energizes the hull and causes a low-level current to flow through the swimmers, thereby disabling muscle function.

It’s referred to as electric shock drowning and not electrocution because there is no physical injury. The victims either lose muscle control or suffer ventricular fibrillation. Because victims typically show no sign of injury, many electric shock drownings are mislabeled as deaths attributable to alcohol intoxication or heart attack.

What Causes Electric Shock Drowning?

Most commonly, it’s faulty boat wiring that is not in compliance with standards. Specifically, the situation is created when faulty wiring causes underwater metals on boats to become energized.

Marinas in many states are inspected annually for compliance with national standards. Inspection of a boat’s electrical system is the responsiblity of the boat owner.

Marina operators are in the best position to prevent electric shock drowning accidents.

How Can Electric Shock Drowning be Prevented?

  • Do not swim in marinas. If you feel a tingly sensation, get out immediately and alert marina operator.
  • Marinas can post no-swimming warning signs.
  • Electrical work on boats should meet American Boat and Yacht Council standards.
  • Electrical work in marinas should only be completed by certified electricians.
  • Boat and marina owners should insure that routine electrical inspections are conducted.

How do I rescue a victim of electric shock drowning?

  • Learn to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and maintain training currency.
  • Call for help. Use 911 or VHF Channel 16 as appropriate.
  • Turn off the shore power connection at the meter base. If you don’t know how to do this, call the harbormaster and take no further action.
  • Get the victim out of the water. Remember to reach, throw, row, but don’t go. Never enter the water to rescue someone.
  • Practice retrieving a person from the water. It is a valuable skill and not easy to do.
  • Perform CPR until the Fire Department, Coast Guard or ambulance can arrive.
  • Victims of electrical shock drowning are good candidates for successful CRP efforts.

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Hurricane Preparation – Part 2 Protecting Your Boat in a Hurricane

Hurricanes are enormous cyclonic storm systems covering thousands of square miles which usually develop in the tropical or subtropical latitudes during the summer and fall. To be a hurricane, the system must be producing winds of 64 knots or more. Less intense storms are designated tropical depressions or tropical storms. Tropical storms and hurricanes are named to aid in identifying them. Each hurricane is, essentially, an organized system made up of hundreds of individual thunderstorms. The core of the hurricane is called the eye, an area of relatively benign weather several miles across surrounded by turmoil. All of the severe weather conditions produced by individual thunderstorms (heavy rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes, downbursts, etc.) are produced and magnified within the hurricane. Working together, such storms generate tremendous tidal surges which can decimate coastal areas.

Historically, individual hurricanes have caused the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage as they ran their course over populated areas. If you know that a hurricane is approaching your area, prepare for the worst. The important point is, GET OFF THE OPEN WATER AS FAR AWAY FROM THE STORM AS POSSIBLE! If this is impossible, keep in mind that the right front quadrant of a hurricane usually, but not always, produces the most violent weather.

marine weather pic - Hollywood BeachWith today’s modern communication net to warn them, people have a better chance to reach safety before a hurricane hits their area. Even so, you may have little more than 24 hours advance notice to get your boat secured against the storm’s full force. Check the weather often.

If your boat is easily trailerable, store it ashore, far from the danger of high water. Follow these tips:

  • If you must move your boat, first inspect the trailer to ensure that it is in proper operating condition. Check tires (including spare), wheel bearings, tow hitch and lights.If you can, put your boat and trailer in a garage. If they must be left out, secure them to strong trees or a “deadman” anchor. Strip off every thing that could be torn loose by a strong wind.
  • Increase the weight of your trailered outboard boat by filling it with fresh water and leaving in the drainplug (inboard boats must be drained to avoid motor damage). Insert wood blocks between the trailer frame and the springs for extra support with the added weight.

If your boat must stay in the water you have three options: BERTH at a dock that has sturdy pilings and offers reasonable shelter from open water and storm surge. Double up all mooring lines but provide enough slack so your boat can rise with the higher tides. Cover all lines with chafe protectors (double neoprene garden hose cut along the side) at points where the line is likely to wear and put out extra fenders and fenderboards (the more the better).

ANCHOR your boat in a protected harbor where the bottom can allow a good anchor hold. An advantage to anchoring is that the boat can more easily respond to wind and water changes without striking docks or other boats than when moored. Heavy and extra anchors are needed for this option and enough line should be on hand to allow a scope of at least 10:1 for each anchor.

HURRICANE HOLES are ideal locations to moor your boat during a hurricane. These are deep, narrow coves or inlets that are surrounded by a number of sturdy trees which block the wind and provide a tie-off for anchor lines. The best location for a hurricane hole is one far enough inland to avoid the most severe winds and tides, yet close enough to reach under short notice. You may want to scout out a satisfactory hurricane hole ahead of time!


  • Never stay with your boat. Your boat should be stripped of anything that can become loose during the storm. This would include unstepping the mast in sailboats. Boat documents, radios and other valuables should be removed from the vessel prior to the storm, since you never know how long it will take for you to get back to your boat once the storm passes.
  • Hurricanes are among the most destructive phenomena of nature, their appearance is not to be taken lightly. Advance planning cannot guarantee that your boat will survive a hurricane safely or even survive at all.
  • Planning can, however, improve survivability and is therefore certainly worth the time and money to do so.

General Weather Tips

Before Setting Out: Obtain the latest available weather forecast for the boating area. Where they can be received, the NOAA Weather Radio continuous broadcasts (VHF-FM) are the best way to keep informed of expected weather and sea conditions. If you hear on the radio that warnings are in effect, don’t venture out on the water unless confident your boat can be navigated safely under forecast conditions of wind and sea. This link will take you to up-to-date marine weather information.

While afloat:

  • Keep an eye out for the approach of dark, threatening clouds which may foretell a squall or thunderstorm.Check radio weather broadcasts periodically for latest forecasts and warnings.Heavy static on your AM radio may be an indication of nearby thunderstorm activity.
  • If a thunderstorm catches you afloat:
    • Put on a Personal Flotation Device. (if not already wearing one)
    • Stay below deck if possible.
    • Keep away from metal objects that are not grounded to the boat’s protection system.

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Hurricane Preparation – Part 1

As the storms start to flow off the coast of Africa like a string of pearls, we should concentrate once again on hurricanes. Earlier, since hurricane season opened, we have published several articles on hurricanes including Hurricane Preparation Checklist. Now, as we approach the historically most active months of hurricane season we will be publishing a 2-part series to further inform our readers of things they should know and do to survive a hurricane.

The first in the series was contributed by the now retired Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Station, Ft. Pierce, FL, Chief Warrant Officer Jim Krzenski.

Images of death and destruction are easily conjured within our minds when hearing the word “Hurricane!”

Due to his or her vulnerability, the mariner’s images are even more vivid and threatening. This is probably true due to the fact that hurricane conditions have a tremendous effect upon the ocean. The ocean is no place for the recreational boater to be during the extreme conditions associated with a hurricane.

Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th of each year. This is no time to drop our guard. I’d like to start by reviewing some of the hurricane-associated terminology, and then discuss some specific preparations that mariners can take to help themselves and their boats survive the storm.

A hurricane watch is issued by the National Weather Service when a hurricane may threaten a specified portion of the coast. It is issued 36 hours before landfall may occur. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected for a specified portion of the coast within 24 hours of landfall.

There are five categories of hurricanes

  • Category (1): winds 74 to 95 MPH – 4 to 5 foot storm surge
  • Category (2): winds 96 to 110 MPH – 6 to 8 foot storm surge
  • Category (3): winds 111 to 130 MPH – 9 to 12 foot storm surge
  • Category (4): winds 131 to 155 MPH – 13 to 18 foot storm surge
  • Category (5): winds 156 MPH and above – 18 foot and above storm surge

Despite the fact that we are more then half way through this year’s hurricane season, we must continue to maintain our vigilance and forehandedness. It makes good sense to have a hurricane plan in place long before a hurricane is bearing down on us. When formulating our hurricane plans we must always keep in mind that “life always comes before property.” I strongly encourage that you heed all evacuation notices issued by your local county emergency management office regardless of the vulnerability of your boat.

Mariners are faced with a significant challenge when formulating an effective plan to protect their most cherished property. We must keep in mind that, despite their best preparatory efforts, many mariners still have lost their boats to the ravaging effects of these storms. A non-trailerable boat at a coastal mooring is in a very vulnerable spot. This fact should not deter us from completing some common sense preparations.

It would be wise to have your boat properly secured long before any public evacuation notices are issued. Waiting too long to make preparations may trap your boat at its present location, or worse, result in you being in a dangerous location during the storm. Note that the draw bridges are authorized to remain closed upon the approach of gale force winds of 34 knots or greater. Make preparations early and then evacuate to safe location.

Due to the various levels of their intensity and the unpredictability of a hurricane’s track, I have found it very effective when formulating a hurricane plan to list all the possible options. Then, upon a hurricane’s approach, chose the options that best fit the particular circumstances.

For example, if you own a trailerable boat, what would be some of the possible options to take in an effort to save your boat? You may want to tow the boat to a safe location outside of the path of the storm. Another option might be to keep your trailerable boat in your backyard, and with the manufacturer’s approval, fill the hull with water. In addition, it may be a good idea to put your anchor out right there in your backyard. If the storm surge reaches your property the anchor may help the boat stay in your backyard. Keep in mind, these backyard actions may stop your boat from being blown around, but it will not protect it from falling trees and flying debris.

If it is a non-trailerable boat that you own, your best option may be to cruise to another part of the world during the Atlantic Hurricane season; the Great Lakes may be one option. Of course, this is not a viable option for most mariners. Some of the more common options may be to have one of the local marine dealers haul your boat out of the water and place it in protective dry storage upon the approach of a hurricane, or you may want to relocate your boat to a previously identified hurricane haven, or you may wish to reinforce your boat’s present moorings and put out extra mooring lines. The publication “Hurricane Havens Handbook for the Atlantic Ocean” (stock # ADA 116103.) can be ordered from the National Technical information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Va. 22161 (703) 487-4600.

I do not recommend that you get underway on your recreational vessel and head out to sea upon the approach of a hurricane to “ride out the storm.” Most boats are not designed to withstand the large seas and high winds generated by these severe storms. It is most important for all mariners to obtain a daily updated tropical weather forecast and plan their boating activities accordingly. Keep abreast of what is happening just over the horizon in our earth’s atmosphere.

Mariners are reminded that aids to navigation, particularly lighted and unlighted buoys, may be moved from charted position, damaged, destroyed, extinguished or otherwise deemed discrepant due to the effects of hurricanes and storms. Mariners should not rely solely upon the position or operation of an aid to navigation, but should also employ such other methods of determining position as may be available.

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Safe Boating With Your Pet

pfd4.jpg (6686 bytes)Today, more and more boaters are bringing their pets on board for a day on the water. Boat captains need to stop and think about a few simple steps that will ensure they and their pets have a fun, safe boating experience this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Pet Safety Lady recommends the following steps for safe boating with your pet:

  •  Take things slow if it is your pet’s first time on the boat. Let him/her adjust to the movement of the boat and the sound of the engine.
  • Always consider a Personal (Pet) Flotation Device. Most have a handle on back to easily lift your pet out of the water.
  • Provide better footing with a piece of carpet or rubber mat (considering that your pet is not wearing boat shoes).
  • Check the deck’s temperature often. Deck surfaces can get quite hot on your pet’s footpads.

“Although it is important to take the appropriate steps to make sure your pet is safe on board, it is equally important to make sure that you and your family are safe as well this holiday,” said Allstate New York spokesperson Krista Conte.

According to Allstate’s Boat Safety brochure, here is the boater’s checklist:

  • Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when boating.
  • Don’t use an inflatable toy as a substitute for a PFD.
  • Never drink and boat.
  • Pay attention to weather changes. Head for shore when winds increase or storm clouds roll in.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Be aware of exhaust emissions. Avoid areas where carbon monoxide collects in and around your boat.
  • Follow Red-Right-Running: keep red buoys to your right (starboard) and green buoys to your left (port).
  • Take a boating safety course from an expert organization.

In addition to safeguarding yourself and passengers, your boat is a valuable investment that should have an up-to-date boat insurance policy.

To learn more about Allstate’s boat insurance, New York customers can contact a local Allstate agent at 1-800 Allstate or


“Pet Safety Lady” Christina Selter, the founder of Bark Buckle UP, has been featured on more than 250 news network shows nationwide over the past few years, as well as in print and on radio. She travels the nation teaching pet safety to pet owners, and her efforts are supported by fire departments, police, Coast Guard and EMT personnel. She recently produced the free pet safety class DVD series, that was filmed in her first national pet safety television commercial. She is currently producing a pet safety PSA for 2010. For more information, please visit and

Reprinted with Permission
From Allstate Insurance


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