Tips for water safety with Memorial Day approaching

Published 9:30 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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Whether you’re a boater, angler, or water sports enthusiast in Kentucky, remember to be responsible around the water, especially during Memorial Day weekend, when things may be more crowded than usual.

The Safe Boating Campaign, led by the National Safe Boating Council, offers these tips for practicing social distancing and safety while boating:

–Wear a life jacket.  No matter what activity you have planned on the water, always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water.  Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket.

–Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved, appropriate for your water activity, and fits properly.  A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems.

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–Know state boating laws.  Violations can result in tickets, fines, or jail time.

–Take a boating safety course.  Learn valuable tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations.

–Make sure your boat or watercraft is maintained and prepared.  There are many items that need to be checked and rechecked on any boat. Doublecheck that fuel is fresh, engine and steering controls work freely, and electrical systems operate correctly.

–Schedule a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons before you hit the water.  Every Vessel Safety Check is conducted 100% free of charge.

–Always file a float plan.  Before you leave the shore, tell someone on land you trust your plan, including details about the trip, boat, persons, towing or trailer vehicle, communication equipment, and emergency contacts.

–Check the weather, including the water temperature.  Know the latest marine weather forecast before going out, and regularly check for changing conditions.  Bring a battery-operated NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio and check the forecast at least twice daily.

–Don’t drink and drive while you boat.  Where the primary cause of accidents was known, alcohol was listed as a leading factor in boating-related deaths.

–Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it.  Be sure to install and maintain a working CO detector, never block exhaust outlets, and always dock, beach, or anchor at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine.

–When docked, be aware of electric outlets and extension cords for “shore power.”  Lines can become frayed or damaged and may conduct dangerous electrical charges to metal ladders and even the water.  If you suspect an electrical danger, have it checked out by a licensed, trained, and experienced electrician.

–Keep in touch.  Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency.  Be sure to have and know how to use at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios, and personal locator beacons (PLB).

By following these tips, you can responsibly enjoy your boat, the water, sunshine, and fresh air.

For additional boating resources and tips, go to