National Safe Boating Week proves to be lifesaver

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National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28.

To enhance the boating experience and educate the public regarding boat safety, the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) was organized in September 1958, under the name National Safe Boating Committee. The NSBC currently has a membership of over 330 organizations, all with an interest in boating safety and education.

With the warm weather, everyone is ready to get out and enjoy the sunshine and have some fun on Mississippi’s hundreds of thousands of acres and miles of water. Just remember to be safe. Always wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and stay hydrated.

When going out on the water in a boat, there are safety rules.

First and foremost, be sure everyone onboard has a proper fitting life jacket and they wear it! Do not put an adult size life jacket on a child because it can easily slip off. An accident can happen unexpectedly and very quickly. According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, four out of five fatal boating accident victims were due to drowning. Out of those who drowned, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

In case of an emergency, you need to communicate with someone back on land details of your outing–who is on the boat, where you will be, and how long you plan to be gone.

Be aware of the current and forecasted weather for your outing. Water conducts electricity so it is important not to be boating during an approaching storm.

Never operate a boat while or after drinking alcohol. You are not only putting yourself in danger but also everyone else in your boat and on the water. Alcohol will limit your judgment of distance and decision making. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is illegal in all 50 states and is a violation of Federal law.

All boat engines produce carbon monoxide (CO)–an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can kill you in a matter of minutes. You do not have to be inside the boat to be at risk. Many have died from exposure on the swim platforms of boats and in other areas where CO exhaust may accumulate or be emitted. Be aware of the early symptoms (irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness).

Knowing the nautical rules of the water is important when crossing, meeting, or over taking another boat.

Last, but not least, take a safe boating course. The top five primary contributing factors in accidents are attributed to operator factors–such as failure to pay attention, carelessness, excessive speed, inexperience, recklessness, and failure to watch for hazards.

Boating safety courses are available, inexpensive and quick–a great way for you to learn safety and the rules on the water.

James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their website is www.wildlifemiss.org.

 





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