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Boat, water safety topic of National Safe Boating Week

by Minden Press-Herald

Boating and water safety is the focus of May 16-22, as National Safe Boating Week gets underway.

Minden Mayor Tommy Davis signed a proclamation in support of the awareness campaign. Staff Commander Jerry Madden, of the United States Power Squadron, says this week is important because it’s about educating the public on boating and water safety.
With Madden were several exchange students.

“We stress boating and water safety in the continental United States and territories, but also worldwide,” he said. “Being that these kids are from everywhere, water safety is no less important there than it is here.”

The U.S. Power Squadron is an organization in the U.S. that focuses on educating the public on boating and water safety. Madden says they teach under the auspices of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coast Guard auxiliary. Units are located in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and surrounding islands and Japan.

National Safe Boating Week is proclaimed every year and many things take place to educate the public. For instance, he says, Friday, May 22, will be “Wear your life preserver to work day.”

“In all the stats that we have all the way up to 2013, we lost less people than we had for 20 years in 2013,” he said. “We haven’t gotten the numbers for 2014, but we’re hoping it’s because people are becoming more educated.”

A water safety fishing day will be at the home of famed fisherman Homer Humphreys Friday, Madden says. A booth will be set up for the power squadron at the event.

Sgt. Patrick Staggs, with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, offered a few tips and reminders for boaters as they go fishing or just spend the day on the lake.

“Make sure you wear your life jacket,” he said. “That’s one of the most important things that they can do. If you’re not wearing it, it won’t work.”

He says the number of life jackets on the vessel must match the number of occupants on the boat.

He explained the differences in the types of life jackets, saying that a type 1 is like the offshore type floatation device. It will have more buoyancy. Type 2 is the orange collar vests, type 3 is like a fishing vest, a type 4 is like a cushion or a ring and a type 5 is like a ski vest or inflatables.

He says some of the laws have changed as recently as four or five years ago dealing with life jackets.

“Any vessel less than 16 feet in length with a tiller steer motor, all occupants must wear their life jackets, any time the motor is being used, regardless of age,” he said. “If a boat is less than 26 feet with a tiller steer motor, they must have the kill switch attached as well. That means it has to be attached to their life jacket or their person. It attaches to the motor and that way if they fall out or get knocked down or something of that nature, the motor will shut itself off rather than them falling out and losing control of the boat.”

He also explained that the same rules that apply to the roads, apply to the water. If there is going to be drinking of alcoholic beverages on the vessel, designate a driver, he says. Along that same line, he says driving under the influence laws apply as well. For an adult, the limit is .08.

Lighting on a boat is important as well, Staggs says.

“From sunset to sunrise, they must have visible navigation and anchor lights displayed anytime they’re out on the water,” he said. “All around white light when they’re anchored, and a combination of the red and green side lights and the stern light when they’re underway.”

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