boater

A boat bobs on the water of Conconully Lake.

OLYMPIA – National Safe Boating Week is underway and runs through May 22, with agencies reminding boaters and paddlers to be safe on the water.

National Safe Boating Week is coordinated each year by the National Safe Boating Council and other agencies in the United States and Canada.

During the 2020 campaign, Washington State Parks’ boating program will step up its emphasis on recreational boating safety on Washington’s waters.

“We find that on-the-water accidents and fatalities increase as the weather warms up and more people get out on the water,” said Rob Sendak, boating program manager.

According to Washington’s recreational boating accident data, in the last five years, trends show most accidents and fatalities happen between May and August, and 75 percent of fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket.

“Boating can be a wonderful way to social distance in the outdoors,” Sendak said. “But we are asking boaters to be safe and consider the first responders who are called out to conduct rescue missions and the potential dangers related to coronavirus exposure.”

Washington State Parks recommends boaters and paddlers:

-Get educated. Some boaters must take an approved boating safety education course. All boaters and paddlers are responsible for knowing the laws and keeping themselves and others safe.

-Conduct a virtual vessel safety check. A virtual vessel safety check is available in lieu of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United State Power Squadrons certified vessel examiners.

-Always wear a life jacket. State law requires all vessels, including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, to have at least one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard. Children age 12 and younger must wear one at all times, and others are encouraged to wear them.

-Bring at least two forms of communication that will work when wet, such as a whistle, waterproof cellphone or VHF marine radio. Flares, signal mirrors and air horns also are recommended.

-Avoid drugs and alcohol. Washington’s boating under the influence law applies to all boats, including kayaks, canoes, robots and inflatable fishing rafts.

-Check and understand the weather, and heed warnings about navigational hazards.

-Protect agains cold-water shock, even in hot weather. Officials said the biggest risk in the water isn’t hypothermia, it’s cold-water shock.

-Follow social media to learn about National Safe Boating Week by following #SafeBoating, #BoatPrepared, #WearItWA and #SafePaddling.

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