ISHPEMING — It’s finally warm enough to be able to take the boat out on the water. Sure, while it can be fun, it’s important to know the rules of the water, and obey them as well.
A day out on the boat can be fun. The open water, the immediate connection with fellow boaters, and the good times. But, all of that fun can go overboard if you’re not safe out on the water. During National Safe Boating Week, it’s important to know that while it’s easy to have a good time on the water, it’s just as easy to follow the rules of the water.
First and foremost…wear a lifejacket. If you’re over the age of six, it’s not required. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“We do recommend that everyone on the boat wears a life jacket, just because in the U.S., over 80 percent of boating fatalities are caused from the lack of use of PFDs,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Brett DeLonge.
That’s 83 percent, to be exact. And the chances of boating accidents increase with more boaters and more obstacles to maneuver around.
“Some of our bodies of water can get very busy with boaters,” said DeLonge. “Know your waterways; out here in the U.P. our lakes and basins have obstacles and hazards like rocks, stumps, things of that nature that can pose a threat to boaters if you’re not aware. You could injure yourself or wreck your boat pretty easily.”
Another very important thing to keep in mind: while drinking alcohol is permitted, it’s best to limit alcohol consumption on the boat.
“A lot of people can say they can go out and have a few beers and be fine,” said DeLonge. “A boat handles much differently than a car; a boat doesn’t necessarily come to a stop like a vehicle does. It’s a totally different animal than what vehicles are.”
In driving school, you’re taught to drive defensively. That same principle applies to the water.
Some other guidelines include: making sure your boat has all of the proper equipment, and is running well; making a plan for your day out on the water; and always having a form of communication. With these other tips, your day on your boat can be much more enjoyable.
In addition, All boat operators must be licensed, and all boats must be registered through the state of Michigan.
So, have fun out there, and follow the rules, to make sure that everyone on the water, including yourself, stays safe. For more information on boating safety, click here.