Keep boat safety in mind before hitting the waves this summer

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Boating safety is one of the most important pieces of the boating puzzle. Planning in advance will ensure you have all the tools in place to ensure you have a safe and memorable boating adventure.

Boater education is a critical component of safety out on the water. Boaters should be reminded that Washington State now requires boat operators ages 12 years and older to pass a boating safety course and obtain a Boater Education Card before operating a motorized vessel of 15 horsepower or greater. This requirement can be satisfied by completing an online course, or in some cases providing proof of completing an approved boating safety course. More information at bit.ly/3sZiJx9.

Even experienced boaters and old salts can learn a thing or two.

If you have completed your boater safety education course, you might want to refresh your skills as skipper by reviewing the Washington State Parks Adventures in Boating Handbook online at bit.ly/3t4dSuy. You might also consider signing up for a free dockside vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. More information and a link to request a free inspection can be found at cgaux.org/vsc.

Before you head for the launch ramp or untie from the dock it’s a good idea to check your boating safety equipment including your life jackets.

Life jackets, also referred to as PFDs (personal flotation devices), are designed to help keep you afloat in the water while you wait for rescue or work on rescuing yourself. Life jackets are designed to work best when properly worn, and not used as a seat cushion or pillow.

According to the Adventures in Boating Handbook, provided by the Washington State Parks Boating Program, all vessels (including non-motorized watercraft) are required to have at least one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved Type I, II, or III life jacket for each person on board.

Washington state law requires that children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless in a fully enclosed area.

The Blaine Harbor Office participates in the BoatUS Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids. The program makes loaner life jackets available to boating families that do not have enough properly fitting life jackets aboard their boat for the day or weekend. Only a limited number of life jackets are available so please return the life jacket to the office as soon as possible for the next boater to use.

Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day will be observed on Friday, May 21. Hosted by the National Safe Boating Council, this annual event is a fun, educational way to heighten life jacket awareness and highlight the various styles just prior to the official launch of the 2021 Safe Boating Campaign. Wear your life jacket, snap a picture while at work and share on social media with the hashtag #lifejacketatwork or send it directly to the National Safe Boating Council at outreach@safeboatingcouncil.org.

For more information of boater safety, visit parks.state.wa.us/450/Boater-Safety.

Wishing you a safe and memorable boating adventure!

Andy Peterson is the harbormaster for Blaine Marina.

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