Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boating Safety Reminders

Salt Lake City -- Utah State Parks and Recreation Boating Rangers encourage everyone boating on our state’s waters to wear a life jacket. In addition, when operating your boat between sunset and sunrise, you must display the boat’s navigation lights. Boaters use lights to be seen by other boaters, as well as to comply with navigation rules. Check light bulbs to ensure they work. As visibility reduces in darkness, boats should be operated at safe speeds to avoid collisions with another boats, hazards or fixed objects.

Red navigation lights indicate the left side of a boat, while green identifies the right. These two lights must be displayed whenever the boat is moving or adrift on the water. The white, 360-degree light must be visible from all directions around the boat and must be displayed whenever the boat is anchored, moving or adrift on the water, except when tied to a dock or moored in a designated mooring area. Small, non-motorized boats, like canoes or rowboats, may carry a white light, such as a flashlight or lantern, to be displayed in time to prevent a collision with another vessel.

The use of bright spotlights on a boat at night is permitted, when used intermittently, to locate hazards or approaching a dock. Spotlights are not to be used in a constant manner, such as headlights on a motor vehicle. Bright lights can create hazardous conditions for other boaters.

“Nine Utahns lost their lives in boating related accidents this year. Five would likely have survived had they been wearing a life jacket,” stated Utah State Parks Boating Assistant Boating Program Manager Chris Haller. "While Utah law requires children under 13 to wear a properly sized life jacket when on a boat, it is a safe and smart practice for everyone to wear a life jacket.”

All vessels on Utah's lakes, reservoirs, and rivers must carry a wearable and properly-sized U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. A U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket must be worn by those under age 13, anyone boating on a river, anyone on a personal watercraft (PWC) and anyone being towed behind a boat.

A vessel is any type of watercraft used as a means of transportation on water, which includes canoes, kayaks, float tubes, inner tubes, kick boats, rubber rafts and many inflatable toys.

Utah and national boating accident statistics over the past six years indicate that approximately 75 to 80 percent of those who drowned in a boating accident would likely have survived had they worn a life jacket.

Whether you are boating for one day or multiple days, you should always file a float plan with details about where you are heading and when you expect to return. This information helps search and rescue crews in the event of an emergency.

Boating Education Specialist Chris Haller suggests the following float plan tips.

For shorter daytime outings, a verbal float plan may be sufficient. At a minimum:

- Contact a responsible person who is not going on the trip, such as a close friend or relative, and provide them with your float plan.

- Leave a telephone number of the local rescue authorities that should be contacted if you are overdue.

- If you plan to extend your time on the water, be sure to let your contact person know before your float plan expires. This avoids unnecessary contact of rescue authorities.

For extended outings, a written float plan is warranted. This plan should include:

- Description of the vessel, including make, size, color, bow number, and marine band call sign.

- Trip itinerary of where you are going with a detailed description of route and intended camping spots.

- List providing number of passengers, names, addresses, and contact information for each passenger in case of an emergency.

- The license plate number and description of the tow vehicle and trailer.

For additional safe boating tips visit stateparks.utah.gov/boating or call 801-538-BOAT. Wear it Utah!

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