2007-06-21 / Editorial

Summer's here - be safe on the water

Today is the first day of summer, a time when many people will be enjoying the great outdoors on their boats. Summer is made for fishing, racing sailboats, and pleasure cruising.

Lots of boaters will be taking to the water during the next few weeks for the Tall Ships parade and the Fourth of July. Many boaters will be out there for the first time. Whether veteran or novice, we should all think about boating safety.

Here are a few safety tips to remember:

+ Always have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person. Should the weather turn sour, put on your PFD. A good rule to follow is to always wear a PFD when you don foul weather gear. Better yet, wear an inflatable PFD whenever on the boat.

+ Never drink and boat. Just like drinking and driving, drinking and boating do not mix. It is also against the law. Do not endanger yourself or others. Save the alcohol for when you are ashore.

+ Operator errors account for 70 percent of boating accidents. Take a boating safety course. Learn the rules of the road. Know how to navigate.

+ Learn how to properly operate your vessel.

+ Pay attention to what other boaters around you are doing. You may have the right-of-way, but the other guy may think he has the right of way.

+ Weather is important. Check the forecast before heading out. If conditions turn foul, head for home.

+ Keep your boat properly maintained with all the recommended safety gear aboard. It is difficult to signal for help without a working radio or flares.

+ Don't pollute. Don't throw your trash overboard and don't dump fuel or oil in the water. Be kind to the Earth.

+ When in doubt, use common sense.

Always play it safe while boating. Have fun on the water this summer.

- Jeff McDonough

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