Michigan boating season: 6 tips to keep you safe on the water
As boating season nears, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers encourage boaters to protect themselves and others by following important safety tips.
Saturday, May 19, marks the start of National Safe Boating Week and the DNR wants all Michigan residents and visitors to have fun while exercising caution and obeying the law.
“Michigan offers countless boating opportunities,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, boating law administrator for the state of Michigan. “But having fun on the water also means being safe. Taking simple precautions, always staying in control of the vessel and following the law will help ensure an enjoyable outing.”
Boaters born after June 30, 1996, and most personal watercraft operators must have a boater education safety certificate.
Lt. Wanless encourages boaters to:
- Wear a life jacket. About 83 percent of drownings resulting from boating accidents in the U.S. are due to people not wearing life jackets. In Michigan, anyone under age 6 must wear a life jacket when on the open deck of any vessel, but wearing a personal flotation device is recommended for everyone.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Nationally, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents where the primary cause was known.
- Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working order. In addition to legally required equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor. Make sure navigation lights work properly.
- File a float plan. Always inform family or friends about the details of your trip. Let them know when to expect you back. Give them phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in case you don’t return on time.
- Stay alert. Watch for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and when visibility is restricted.
- Carry a cell phone or marine radio. Be prepared to call for help if you are involved in or witness an accident, your boat or the boat of another becomes disabled, or you need medical assistance.
The DNR also recommends a boating safety course for anyone who plans to use a boat or personal watercraft. Classes are offered at locations around the state and online, making it convenient and affordable.
Visit michigan.gov/boating for more information on boating safety, enrolling in a safety course, boat registration, and boating access at Michigan’s parks, campgrounds, harbors and marinas.
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