(MSHP) - Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, would like to make the public aware of National Safe Boating Week, which takes place May 18-24, 2013. As the weather starts to warm up, we’re all anxious to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Families and friends gather together to enjoy the outdoors, travel on vacation, and spend time on the water – boating, fishing, sailing, and more. It’s important to remember the safety precautions to take during all of these recreational water activities.
Nationwide, approximately 500 people drown each year from recreational boating accidents. Of those, nearly 88 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
It is imperative that everyone wear a life jacket at all times in and around the water. Missouri law requires children under seven to wear a life jacket at all times while on board a boat unless in an enclosed cabin area. The Missouri State Highway Patrol joins the National Safe Boating Council, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and Canadian Safe Boating Council in encouraging safe and responsible boating, including wearing a life jacket, and being alert and aware in and on the water.
“Boating accidents occur too quickly for you to reach for a life jacket,” said Colonel Replogle. “Missouri experienced 82 boating accidents in 2012, in which 93 people were injured and 10 people were killed. Please pay attention when enjoying Missouri’s waters, and make sure you have a life jacket for each person in your boat. Take time to choose a life jacket that fits properly and is approved for your activity and body weight.”
Life jackets are now lighter, less obtrusive, and more attractive than ever before. The new inflatable life jackets allow the mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing or paddling, and are much cooler in the warmer weather. There are many different varieties of inflatable jackets ranging from those that inflate instantly when submerged in the water to those that are manually inflated. All are designed to be more comfortable and wearable than the traditional life jacket.
In addition to your life jacket, remember these boating safety tips:
1) Don’t drink alcohol while you're boating.
2) Know Missouri’s boating laws before you get onto the water.
3) Make sure your boat is as prepared as you are. Schedule an inspection before you hit the water.
4) Check the weather. Know the forecast prior to going out, and check for changing conditions regularly.
5) Make sure you can keep in touch. In an emergency situation, cell phones and having a good float plan, which includes someone on shore knowing when you are leaving and when you should return, is important.
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol would like the 2013 boating season to be fun for everyone,” said Col. Replogle.
Boaters are reminded to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol using *55 if they need assistance, or observe another boater operating a vessel in an unsafe manner.
The Patrol encourages motorists and watercraft operators to protect themselves by making sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint and everyone in the vessel is wearing an approved life jacket. Click It 4 Life and Wear It!!!