Water safety reminders as boating season begins

Photo courtesy Washington State Parks

Recreational boating is a popular pastime in Washington. In fact, nearly 225,000 vessels were registered in 2023. Washington State Parks Recreational Boating Safety Program offers the following boating safety tips:

Always Wear a Life Jacket. Wearing a life jacket and encouraging others to do the same is the single most important step to staying safe. The life jacket should be U.S. Coast Guard Approved and fit appropriately.

Avoid alcohol and drugs. Washington state’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI) law applies to all boats including kayaks, canoes, row boats and inflatable fishing rafts.

Bring communication devices. Boaters should carry two forms of communication that will work when wet, such as a whistle, waterproof cell phone or Marine radio.

Check and understand the weather. Boaters should check the weather frequently before and during their boating excursion, keeping an eye on current conditions and forecasts.

Beware of cold-water shock. The biggest risk is not hypothermia, it is cold-water shock, which occurs in the first stage of immersion. Boaters need to take caution and prepare themselves by always wearing a life jacket.

Use an engine cut-off switch. Boaters are encouraged to use their engine cut-off switch every time they go boating.

Get educated. All boaters and paddlers are responsible for knowing the laws and keeping themselves and others safe.

For more information on boating safety, and other resources to promote Safe Boating Week May 18-24, visit www.parks.wa.gov/Boating.

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