Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, stresses the importance of safe boating by making the public aware of “National Safe Boating Week”, which takes place May 16-22.

A news release says “National Safe Boating Week” is purposefully scheduled just prior to Memorial Day weekend, which many people consider the kickoff to the boating season.

“It’s important that boaters are prepared before they navigate Missouri waterways,” said Colonel Olson. “Checking your boat for the proper equipment and inspecting for any mechanical issues that may have developed over the winter months should be a standard boating practice.”

Boaters who would like an equipment inspection done by a marine trooper can contact their local troop and make that request.

Life jackets save lives, and should be worn whenever possible out on the water. If not worn, a life jacket must be readily accessible for each occupant on board a vessel. For children under the age of seven, and for the occupants of a personal watercraft underway, wearing a life jacket is required.

Boaters are urged to use caution while fueling up their vessel. Fuel leaks can develop over time, so inspecting the engine compartment of an inboard or inboard/outboard vessel prior to use- and each time you refuel- is a must. In addition to inspecting the engine compartment, the blower system should be activated for at least four minutes after refueling is complete, but prior to starting the vessel. Starting a boat engine can ignite gas fumes that have accumulated in the engine compartment, so don’t cut corners when it comes to these safety precautions.

Some other key boat operation tips include:
1) Be aware of boats in the vicinity and maintain a safe distance from them.
2) Adjust your speed for the conditions … not every boat is created equal when it comes to navigating rough water conditions.
3) Turn off the boat engine while passengers are entering or exiting the water.
4) If you potentially could be out on the water after dark, make sure your navigation lights are working before you leave the dock or ramp.
5) Be a courteous boater and watch your wake.

Boaters are reminded to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol by dialing *55 on a cellular phone if they need assistance or observe another boater operating a vessel in an unsafe manner.

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