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SAFETY FIRST WHEN ON THE WATER

SAFETY FIRST WHEN ON THE WATER

Boaters reminded of laws, safety rules that could save a life
PRATT — It’s springtime, and outdoor recreational users are taking to the water. Fishing, skiing, tubing, sailing, and paddle sports are common activities people enjoy while boating on Kansas waters. With the new season, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) reminds recreational enthusiasts that safety equipment, attention to rules, and properly-maintained equipment help make a safe and enjoyable trip.

The most valuable piece of equipment for both swimmers and boaters is the personal flotation device (PFD), commonly known as a life jacket. “Of the six boating-related fatalities that occurred in 2010, all were from drowning, and none of the victims wore a life jacket,” says Dan Hesket, boating law administrator for KDWP. “These tragedies illustrate the importance of obtaining and wearing a proper life jacket. New designs of life jackets, including inflatable designs, eliminate common excuses for not wearing them. These new PFDs are comfortable, fashionable, and designed to reduce any restrictions while moving around.”

Attending or completing an approved boating safety course is also highly recommended and is required for any person between the ages of 12 and 20 who wishes to operate a vessel (PWC, power boat, sailboat) without direct, on-board supervision. In addition, no one under the age of 12 may operate a vessel without direct, on-board supervision regardless of boater education certification. Information on courses may be found at the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us. Just click “Boating/Boating Education.” This course provides information on types of equipment required on vessels, as well as others suggested to make the outing as safe as possible.

Many people are unaware that there are operating rules for boats on the water, which include being able to recognize buoy markings and the proper use of navigation lights. Knowledge of these rules can prevent dangerous, even deadly, situations.

Safety on the water is not all that is covered in a boating education course. Before turning the key, letting down the sail, or controlling a paddle, you must first get the boat to the water. Most of this involves the use of a trailer. Proper trailer inspections cover wheel bearings, trailer lights, winch straps, structural integrity of trailers, and properly-working trailer hitches.

Motorized boats and sailboats are required to be registered and properly numbered before operated on public waters of Kansas. Original registration papers must be on board and made available for inspection. Upon sale of a boat, the registration must be properly transferred to the new owner before it can be legally operated on public waters.

For more information on boating safety and boating laws, phone KDWP at 620-672-5911 and ask for Boater Education.
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