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Boating safety: Tips to stay safe out on the water

6/24/2015

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

NORTH VALLEY – With the record high temperatures this past week, many local residents are heading out to one of Arizona’s lakes. Stay safe out on the water by following boating safety guidelines.

Arizona Game and Fish Department has issued a reminder of the importance of boating safety after a man was seriously injured in a recent boating accident. The man was struck by a boat propeller and had to be airlifted to a hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

“Time spent on our lakes and waterways should be a fun time for everyone,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boat Safety Education coordinator in a release from Game and Fish. “Whether you’re on a boat or in the water, everyone must remain vigilant to ensure time on the water is safe for all.”

AZGFD notes that a boat’s propeller can still be spinning when the boat is idling or in neutral, so the safest option is to turn the boat off when not in motion.

AZGFD offered further boating safety tips:
State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while onboard and that the vessel must have one life jacket for each passenger.
Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft such as a jet ski must wear a life jacket.
Before starting the boat’s engine, walk to the stern to make sure no one is near the propeller.
Never allow passengers to board or exit while the engine(s) are running.
Educate passengers on the location and danger of the propellers.
Take extra precautions around other boats towing skiers and/or tubers.
Never reverse a boat to pick someone out of the water.

Wearing a life jacket while on a boat isn’t just a good idea – for kids 12 and under, it’s the law. State law requires that kids wear life jackets while onboard and that every boat has a life jacket available for each passenger. In a boating safety commentary, the United States Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims.

“The U.S. Coast Guard challenges you and your passengers to wear your life jacket all the time while underway,” notes the U.S. Coast Guard Web site. See www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/life-jacket-wear-wearing-your-life-jacket.php for information on finding the right life jacket.

Alcohol and boating can be a dangerous combination. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than half of those who died in alcohol-related boating deaths capsized their boats and/or fell overboard. It is illegal in every state to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Multiple agencies offer boating safety courses to educate operators and passengers on basic boating skills, navigational rules, what to do in case of a boating emergency, and more. The Arizona Game and Fish Department recommends that all boat operators and passengers take a boating safety course.
For a list of courses hosted around the state, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. See U.S. Coast Guard boating safety course options at www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/boating-safety-courses.php.

If you own a boat, the U.S. Coast Guard can perform a free vessel safety check on it. There is no charge for the check. The U.S. Coast Guard offers the checks to “simply to help make boating as safe as possible for you, your family and your friends, through education.” To schedule a vessel safety check, visit www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters and click Vessel Safety Check.