Boating season is coming up fast and soon we will be backing our trailers down into the cool water of the local lakes. You have probably checked over all of your fishing gear, made sure the plug was in and even changed the lower unit oil in the motor. However, have you completed a boater safety course?
It would be a safe assumption that at least 8 out of 10 boaters have never taken a safety course. If you sit and think about it this is a scary number. Imagine you are at one of the large boat ramps on Lake Michigan and you look over and see 9 other boats launching. How many of those guys have completed a course in boating safety? How many have ever had their boats inspected for proper safety gear?
Well there is no time like the present to get your safety gear together, get enrolled in a free class, and start learning. Yes I said free! Certified instructors hold the “Boating Safety Education” classes and they are paid for through your tax dollars. You can find classes by going to the Illinois DNR website or to a local Coast Guard Auxiliary.
The courses are available through many civic organizations, park districts, schools, the U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons. According to the Illinois DNR: State certified volunteer instructors throughout the state spend hours teaching classes. The volunteer instructor staff is made up of men and women who donate thousands of hours of their personal time offering safety courses to many communities.
The boaters’ education course typically consists of a two-day weekend with over 8 hours of instruction. The course covers basics of boating safety, equipment and requirements, navigation, registration and titling, emergency measures and the Illinois boating laws. Best of all it is typically Free!
Safety on the water should be everyone’s number one priority. Nothing can ruin a day more than someone having an accident or having boat problems that could have been avoided. Illinois law mandates that any persons at least twelve years of age and less than eighteen years must be in possession of a valid boating education certificate if they are not accompanied and under direct control of a parent or guardian. However, people of all ages should consider taking the courses to be proper role models for their children as well as others.
By doing a little bit of internet research, making a phone call or two, or visiting your local sporting outlet you will be able to find the best place for your safety course. You can also get your boat inspected as well. Too often people take for granted that they are safe on the water with what they have in their boats. However, they may be missing some key elements that could cause for danger or tickets by law enforcement.
Boating safety is too often taken for granted and boaters are often too caught up in worrying about fishing gear and not about safety gear. Are your flares expired? Do you have enough PFD’s? Do you have all the necessary signaling equipment? All good questions that can be answered in a simple safety inspection. Again, all of this is offered at no cost to you.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources website (www.dnr.illinois.gov) is a wealth of information and all of your questions can be answered with a few clicks of your mouse. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the site and learning what the state has to offer to the outdoors person.
We all want to enjoy our time out on the water so why not make it a safe one. Take the time out of your schedule and attend a local boaters safety course. Bring your kids with and you will be surprised what you may learn. It is important to be safe on the water and by doing so your experience will be that much more rewarding.
A couple of courses that are coming up are being held by the Illinois DNR are going to be on the following dates:
March 10th and 11th at the Mokena Park District, 10925 La Porte R, Mokena, IL.
March 24th and 25th at the tinley Park Police Dept. 7859 W. 183td st Tinley Park, IL.
To register just call 708-429-4903 and sign up.
Good luck and Safe Boating!