Summer may not be here yet, but boating season is already starting around Ottawa County. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is making sure everyone is safe on the water with tips for National Safe Boating Week.
“As the summer weather heats up, we are excited to welcome people to our lakes and rivers,” said Director Mary Mertz of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “Whether you have years of experience or it’s your first time heading out, we want all boaters and paddlers to plan ahead and think about safety first, so everyone has a great day on the water.”
Not following proper safety measures could lead to tragedy on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2021 drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities. Eighty-six percent of boaters who drowned were not wearing life jackets. As of October 2021, there were 15 boating related fatalities in Ohio, six of which were due to drowning.
The National Safe Boating Council and the ODNR recommend these tips for boaters:
- Wear your U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket and make sure everyone else on your boat also wears a life jacket that fits properly.
- Take a boating safety class. Gain valuable knowledge and experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
- Carry all required safety gear. Inspect equipment for holes, tears, and other damage.
- File a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including information about all passengers, boat type and registration, and communication on board.
- Be aware of weather and water conditions. Always check the forecast before departing on the water.
- Boat sober and be considerate of others. Be aware of other boaters around you and designate a sober skipper.
- In case of an emergency, power boaters should use the engine cut-off device, which is a proven way to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
In addition to offering boating safety courses, ODNR’s Natural Resource Officers provide complimentary boat safety inspections and on-the-water patrols to assist boaters. Earlier this spring, more than 60 officers from various Ohio law enforcement agencies including 10 new ODNR officers, were certified in Ohio’s Basic Marine Patrol Training course which covers boating laws and rules, boat operation skills, and how to conduct effective vessel stops as well as assist boaters in distress or arrest boaters operating watercraft under the influence.