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June 23, 2009   Email to Friend 

Stay Alert And Safe On The Waterways This Boating Season
By Miranda Mattheis

Warm weather has finally arrived, which means it's time to relax and enjoy the outdoors. For many people, this means spending time with family and friends on the lake.

While boating is a popular activity, there are a few precautions that can be taken to make spending time on the water fun and safe for everyone.

The most important boating safety tip is to wear a life jacket. Lt. Erica Shipman of the Alabama Marine Police Division said life jacket violations were among the most common violations in 2008.

"Life jackets are important because they do save lives," Shipman said. "Children under 8 are required by law to wear them whenever they're in a boat."

On federal waters, children under the age of 12 must be wearing a life jacket. However, regardless of age, there must be a life jacket available to each person on the boat. There are many other precautions people should take before operating a boat.

Last year, registration violations were the number one type of violation, followed by violations for operating without a vessel license. Operating without an emergency shutoff switch attached was also a common violation. Other important boating safety rules are some of the same safety rules that apply to driving a car.

"We also encourage people, if they're going to be out there, don't drink and drive," Shipman said. "You need to have a designated operator on the boat."

Being aware of the weather can also ensure safety while spending time on a boat. Storms can happen quickly during the summer, so it is important for the boat operator to be aware of changes in the weather patterns and conditions.

Following boating laws and having the proper safety equipment can save lives. Visit OutdoorAlabama.com for more boating safety tips.



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