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Tips for boat safety

National Safe Boating Week is coming up May 19-25, 2018. Shining a spotlight on safe practices for boaters, the designated week reminds those who love to be on the water to put safety first. It comes just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, which California residents will recognize as a crowded time on local lakes and other waterways.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard published statistics showing that, in 2016, Saturday and Sunday were the worst days for boating accidents. The month of July also happened to document the most mishaps on record that year.

Drawing further conclusions from the data is not possible, but it is worth noting that summer months equate to more boats on the water. Crowded recreational areas mean participants in water sports should maintain awareness and do everything in their power to stay safe.

After a review of the USCG's leading factors in boating accidents, it is easy to deduce some tips for prioritizing risk reduction. "Operator inattention" and lack of experience proved to be the most costly errors in 2016, so operators should commit to getting professional training and experience to reduce the chance of endangering friends and family. Those at the control of water vehicles should also minimize distractions and focus full attention on navigating the boat.

Since the USCG reported "improper lookout [and] excessive speed" contribute to accidents as well, proponents of boating safety cannot emphasize enough the importance of maintaining a safe speed and, as noted above, minimizing distractions to keep a focused watch.

Finally, be sure to maintain your boat well and let a mechanic give it a check before launching it for the first time this summer. Machinery failure was the fifth leading factor in 2016 boating accidents.

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