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Top 10 tips for boating safety

Top 10 tips for boating safety

(NAPS)-Before taking to the waterways, plot a course to safety. GEICO Insurance Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard recommend the following:
1. Always wear a life jacket-The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all recreational boats must carry one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard. Life jackets should be tested yearly and must be the appropriate size for the intended user.
2. Check the weather forecast-A calm, sunny day can quickly turn into a deadly storm. Check the weather forecast before venturing out. Also, keep a radio on board to receive weather updates and advisories.
3. Take a boater safety course-Learn the proper regulations and safety precautions. Most states require operators to pass boater safety requirements and display their safety certificate.
4. Don't drink and boat- According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a leading cause of fatal boating accidents. Alcohol affects judgment and vision, increasing the likelihood of an accident. It's illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol.
5. Preventative boat maintenance-Regularly checking your equipment for safety ensures that it will perform better, reduce depreciation and save on costly repairs.
6. Operate at a safe speed-Excessive speeding is a leading cause of all reported boating accidents. Operate your boat at a safe speed and stay aware of traffic density and navigation hazards.
7. Learn the rules of the waterway-Waterways don't have traffic signals to direct boater traffic. So boaters must depend on each other by observing safety precautions and navigational rules to prevent mishaps.
8. Hypothermia is a risk-Avoid entering the water when the temperature is below 59F. Symptoms include a decrease in body temperature, uncontrolled breathing and unconsciousness. When planning your trip, pack dry clothing in a waterproof bag and never go out alone.
9. Install a carbon monoxide detector-Internal combustion engines on boats emit a harmful, odorless gas called carbon monoxide. The symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication. All boats with an enclosed cabin need to be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.
10. Create a float plan-Inform a friend or family member of your boating plans and when you are expected to return. This information will aid officials if an accident occurs.
For more information, visit www.geico.com/information/about insurance/boat.

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