Boating safety tips for summer water sports

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - School is out, and summer is here. That means people everywhere are hitting the water on numerous types of water craft.

But, before you put that boat  into the water, you need to make sure that it's safe and that you are safe.

A twist of the key and the outboard or inboard rumbles to life.

Face it , there is nothing more fun than flying over the water with the wind in your hair and spray in your face. But like in a car, boating accidents can happen quickly and the results can be deadly.

Chuck Long, the Northeast Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Boating Safety instructor says.

"Nationally, most of our boating incidents occur on a fairly calm body of water on a pretty sunny day and typically in a smaller boat."

Long says before you even get the keel wet there are some things you need to have.

Long, "It's a good idea to have a whistle, or an air horn, some kind of sound signaling device.  If you are screaming and hollering people may think you are just having fun. If your boat has any kind of enclosed fuel tank to where your gas vapors might accumulate you are required by law to have a fire extinguisher."

Sunglasses, a hat, some sunscreen and water are good things to have along as well, especially the water.

Long, "When we're out on the boat we get stressed a lot just from the waves, the sun, the heat much less anything else we might be doing."

A boat also has to be properly licensed through your Revenue office and clearly marked.

Long, "Displayed on the front half of the boat with big block 3 inch block letters. And that has to be done before you get out on the water."

If you were born after 1986 you must take a boater's operating course. Long says, "Over 12 you can operate any motor boat after you have completed the proper Boater Ed course. "

Jet ski rules are a little different, Long says you need to check on line for those rules. There are size and age requirements.

But the number one commandment of boat operations is to make sure you have plenty of flotation devices. They need to fit properly and are provided for every passenger. Also you are required to have cushions with straps that are throwable and PFD certified.

Holding up a kids life jacket Long said, "Each person on board has to have one of these on the boat for them and if they are 12 and under they must have them on."

With so many types of personal flotation devices out there you should be able to find one that fits and is comfortable. Like a seat belt, a life jacket not worn doesn't do you any good.

Buckle up and stay safe.

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