Let’s work for a safe boating season

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Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to the summer boating season, and this past week is National Safe Boating Week.

Let’s make the upcoming warm-weather months safe ones on the Empire State’s lakes, rivers and waterways. Major goals are to teach the public the importance of safe boating practices and wearing life jackets.

National Safe Boating Week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible. It’s a great opportunity to remind all boaters to brush up on boating safety skills and prepare for the boating season.

A good source of information on the laws and regulations for safe boating can be found at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating.

The site begins: “Welcome aboard! New York State offers an abundance of scenic waterways for boaters including the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, lakes in the Adirondacks, the Barge Canal, the Finger Lakes, Great Lakes, and hundreds of other streams, lakes and rivers to enjoy. Boaters can escape on a relaxing cruise, fish a favorite cove, or embark on a family adventure exploring new waters, all while experiencing first-hand New York’s incredible natural beauty.

“The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provides the public with a safe and enjoyable environment for recreational boating. Our goal is to assist the boater in developing safe boating habits and maintaining a strong law enforcement presence on our waters.”

Overall, New York in 2020 had fewer total accidents (240) and injuries (127) reported compared to the previous year.

For details on safe-boating regulations, check out the website, but in general the following is good advice:

• Take a boater safety course. As of Jan. 1, 2020, New York began a phase-in-by-age law that requires a new age group to become certified each year, requiring all motorized boat and personal watercraft operators to pass a boater safety course and to carry a New York boater card by January 1, 2025.

• Wear a life jacket while on the water.

• Be aware of water conditions both above and below dams.

• Always boat with a sober operator. Impaired boating is a crime.

• Report unsafe operation, boat accidents or law violations to the authorities.

Let’s aim for fewer fatal incidents and accidents this year.

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