Winter is over, spring is in full effect and summer is almost here.
You know what that means? That means it's boating season.
Unfortunately for far too many people, it also means it's the season of boating accidents, injuries and even deaths.
But it doesn't have to be. Let's make this the safest year yet by following a few basic rules of the road.
The first one sounds so common-sense obvious that we feel like we shouldn't have to even mention it. But, we do have to mention it. Keep life jackets and floatation devices on board. Four out of five people who die on boats are drowning victims.
Next, if you wouldn't do it in a car, you probably shouldn't do it on a boat. That means don't drink and drive. Drinking and boating is illegal — and for good reason. Alcohol is one of the top causes of accidents, especially fatal accidents, on the water.
Another major hazard is speed. While not as deadly as alcohol, excessive speed causes more accidents than booze.
Keep this safety precaution in mind - education. Its up to you to know and obey all navigation rules. Ignorance is not a defense if you cause an accident.
Finally, use common sense. Watch or listen to weather reports before you head out. Heed weather-related warnings and if clouds start to look ominous, listen to Mother Nature — and your own better judgement. Make sure your passengers are seated and ready before you take off. Know — and never exceed — your boat's capacity, and use an anchor if you want your boat to stay put.
Did we forget something? The best thing about your boating safety knowledge is that as long as you don't keep it to yourself, other people can learn from it. Join us on Facebook and share your best boating safety tips on our page. You might just save a life!