With the weather warming, it's time for boats to hit Missouri's waterways. Before this happens, the Missouri State Highway Patrol wants to make you aware of National Boat Safety Week, May 21 - 27. No one wants to experience an injury, unfortunate accident or worse while boating. While you're enjoying the natural beauty of a gorgeous day out on the water, be sure that your plans include a seamless safety program. Follow these seven tips and have a great experience!
1. Get a boat inspection
Before launching your boat in the water, a thorough inspection is recommended. You can ensure your boat is in compliance with state law by bringing it to an inspection station where a marine operations trooper will perform the inspection. If you're unsure about where to bring your boat for this service, contact troop headquarters in your municipality.
2. Know the laws on water
Just last year, there were 152 reports of boating accidents in Missouri. Of those incidents, 70 caused injuries and 17 involved fatalities. Many of these accidents could have been avoided with proper safety precautions and awareness of the law.
3. Designate a "sober boat operator"
Make it your priority to designate a sober boat operator. Operating a boat while impaired is just as dangerous as operating a land vehicle while under the influence.
4. Wear life jackets
You must have a personal flotation device on board for everyone present. Children who are under the age of seven must be wearing a personal flotation device. However, it's a good idea for people of all ages to wear them. Statistically, Missouri drownings involve adults more often than children.
5. Watch your speed and wake
Many environmental conditions could come up unexpectedly while you're operating a boat. Your speed conditions should remain safe to ensure better reaction times. When visibility is poor, or the water is rough, maintain a slow speed. And do not create wakes that are unsafe for other boats.
6. Check your lights
Checking your lights is an important step, particularly if you have plans to leave the boat launch or dock at night. You can't expect other boats to see you if your navigation lights are not all fully operational.
7. Be a defensive operator
Make sure you're maintaining a safe distance from other boaters. Remember, you are responsible for staying out of the way of boats and should not expect them to move.
By following these tips, it's possible for you to remain safe while out on Missouri's waters. You should contact the state patrol by dialing 55 on your cell phone if you or anyone else needs assistance, or if you observe a boater being unsafe. If you experience a boating injury, an attorney at The Johnson Law Firm can assist you with your case.