Proper safety critical when on the water

The recent spell of rainy weather has left the Ohio River high and muddy but it will return to normal soon and so will the number of boaters,

Boating is a fun way to spend a lazy summer day, but it can be dangerous if proper precautions aren’t followed.

The U.S Coast Guard reported there were 4,515 recreational boating accidents last year that claimed the lives of 651 people.

Statistics show that almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned and almost 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

It is the responsibility of boat operators to make sure there is at least one life jacket for each passenger and to make sure the jackets are worn at all times.

Parents or another responsible adult must take special care to ensure that the devices are properly fitted for children.

Boating accidents can happen very quickly and rarely leave enough time put on a flotation device. A good safety rule for boaters is to wear a life jacket at all times, not just when the boat is in motion. Also, those who enjoy fishing should wear their life vests at all times.

Many anglers will wear the safety gear until they reach the fishing spot and then remove it – a choice which can be dangerous. One misstep and an angler can fall out of the boat or be thrown from a boat by rough water.

Improvements in the design of life jackets have allowed them to become lightweight and more comfortable. They allow for the wide range of motion that is needed for fishing, skiing and other activities on the water.

Not paying attention can be dangerous for you and your boat. More accidents were caused by operator inattention than any other factor in the past several years, with collisions being the most common type of accident.

Boating safety begins with a safety course. It is a good idea for beginners and for all boaters.

Another factor that must not be overlooked is alcohol. It has no place in safe boating. Impaired boaters are as much a danger on the water as they are on a city street. The Coast Guard reported alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

The remainder of the summer boating season can be safe and pleasurable if boaters think safety first.