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Brush up on boating safety for the summer

Summer is around the corner and the mercury is rising. There’s no better way to beat the heat than getting out on the water. Boating can be an enjoyable family activity for people of all ages. But before leaving the marina, know some boating-safety basics.

 

Make sure your boat is safe

If your boat spent the winter in storage, some issues may have arisen that you are not aware of. Before you launch your boat for the season, it’s smart to have your boat checked for seaworthiness.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons provide vessel safety checks. The service is free and there’s no consequences if your boat doesn’t pass. You can schedule a free safety check with this online form.

Have the right gear

Before you head out, make sure that you have all the safety gear necessary in case of an emergency.

By law, all boats must have a Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board your vessel. Life jackets are an essential safety measure. In 2017, 74 percent of all boating deaths were due to drowning, and 84 percent of people who drown were not wearing life jackets.

It is also smart to keep other emergency gear on board, like a first-aid kit, duct tape, a flashlight and a fire extinguisher.

Watch the weather

Always check the weather before your take to the water. On the coast, weather can change in an instant, so look at the forecast ahead of time. Storms can produce rough seas that can easily capsize a small boat and leave you stranded.

Don’t drink and boat

Just like drunk driving can get you a DUI, you can get a BUI for boating under the influence of alcohol. Boating drunk is illegal in all vessels, from a kayak to a yacht.

Boating requires sound judgement, coordination and balance – all things impaired by alcohol. In fact, alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than it is on land. The movement of the boat, the sun, wind, engine noise and spray from the water all make boaters become impaired more quickly.

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