The Midwest is home to many beautiful lakes and rivers that are perfect for recreational boating. Follow these important boating safety tips for a relaxing and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend.
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved lifejacket. Your boat should have enough approved lifejackets for everyone onboard. Be sure to wear your lifejacket and make sure all children wear properly fitted lifejackets, as well.
- Have A Plan. It’s best to know where you will be in relation to land and other important navigational landmarks, so you can keep your sense of direction. Check the weather before heading out and be prepared for pop-up storms. Notify someone of your boating plans for the day and what time they should expect you back.
- Forget the alcohol. Most boating accidents are alcohol related, so leaving the cooler on land is not only a good idea, but a life-saving opportunity as well. Just like driving a car, if you do plan to enjoy a few drinks on the water, appoint a designated boat driver who is familiar with the vessel, the body of water and basic boating safety.
- Inspect the boat prior to launch. Give your boat a thorough inspection to make sure everything is in good working condition. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has certified vessel examiners who will perform a free Vessel Safety Check (“VSC”) of your boat at no charge. There are no consequences if you don’t pass the inspection. Their goal is simply to help make boating as safe as possible through education. The Missouri Water Patrol Division offers this list of everything you need onboard your boat, personal watercraft or canoe/kayak.
- Educate yourself before you launch. Whether you are new to boating or a salty veteran, it’s always a good idea to take a boater safety course. In the state of Missouri, any person born after January 1, 1984 is required by law to possess, on the vessel, a boating safety identification card issued by the Water Patrol Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Check the Missouri Water Patrol Division website for more information on boating safety courses.
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