Time to think Boating Safety

Time to think Boating Safety

Stopping in at some of the boat shops is getting to be a pretty popular thing right about now.  Following Memorial Day weekend is usually the time when boat owners get their rigs out on the water for the first time each year.

Picking up much needed supplies, getting the boat tuned up and replacing worn out flotation devices and outdated warning signal flares are all part of the program.

There is a major need for public awareness that boating safety is important and to promote the need for boating safety.

A good way to learn more about boating safety would start with a visit the web.   CLICK HERE to check out some of the articles on safe boating tips.

The big push is for boaters to wear a personal flotation device (PFD).

Although the statistics are down from last year on boating accidents, there is still a need to improve.  Last year thirteen persons lost their lives and fifty-seven others were injured in boating related accidents here in Illinois.  It may not sound like a lot for the whole state, but isn’t one fatality too many?

The Illinois DNR claims that of the thirteen persons who lost their lives, ten of them may have survived if they were wearing a life jacket.  Think about it.  Thirteen fatalities could have been only three.  PFDs should be worn at all time while boats are underway.  For the youngsters, they need to have them on at all times.

Illinois law requires that youths under the age of 13 must wear a PFD while on any boat under twenty six feet in length.  Youthful boat operators must be in possession of a boating safety certificate which they obtained by attending and successfully completing a boating safety class.  This law applies to all from the age of twelve to eighteen.  If you will be operating a personal water craft or jet ski, a PFD must be worn at all times regardless of age.

You can also take an online boat safety education course through the IDNR web site.  There is a nominal fee and you may just be able to save that amount from your boat insurance policy once you have successfully completed the course and provide the necessary documents to your insurance company.

But do we need laws to force us into using simple common sense when boating?  I really don’t think so.

When we’re on the water, we should be totally aware of what is going on all around us.  Be aware speed limits for the body of water that you will be boating in and any special regulations.  Some smaller private lakes that allow water skiing during certain hours require that boat travel in certain directions, like pulling skiers in a clockwise direction on the lake.

Maps for lakes and rivers are available everywhere. The best source for maps is the Sportsman’s Connection collection (see www.SportsmansConnection.com).  Be aware of where you will be traveling.  Know the depths and pay attention.  I’ve heard of boats hitting reefs on Lake Erie and passengers flying head over heals into the shallow rocks because there was too much speed and the driver didn’t know where he was going.  It could happen anywhere.

So if we all can be boating wise and courteous, safe boating will just falls into place.  Boating is fun and what a great way to spend the summer!

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