U.S. Coast Guard. (MGNonline)
Last Modified: Monday, April 07, 2014 12:50 PM
Spring is here and boating enthusiasts will be taking to Louisiana waterways in increasing numbers. Boating is a fun family activity as long as all the safety rules are kept in mind when on the water.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries (LDWF) takes boating safety and enforcement of the laws governing the waterways quite seriously.
Learn or refresh your memory about boating safety, as well as the rules and regulations of this state before launching your boat. LDWF offers free boating courses statewide, and you can review boating an personal flotation device (PFD) regulations and laws at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.
Each vessel should have enough PFDs on board for all occupants and a sober operator. LDWF regulations state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.
Alcohol consumption impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol also increases fatigue and susceptibility to hypothermia. Intensifying the effects of alcohol are sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement, which are all common to boating activities.
The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road. Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case. Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.
In addition, the American Boating Association encourages every boater to be serious about boating safety, starting with the proper kind and amount of boater training. Remember, a boating mishap or fatality often involves innocent people who share in none of the blame, but all of the consequence. As a responsible boater, the life you save may very well be someone else’s.
The Lake Charles Sail and Power Squadron holds a one-day Safe Boating Class nearly monthly on Saturday’s from 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m. Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, must take the class before operating a boat over 10 horsepower. For more information on the Power Squadron Safe boating classes, 474-0730.
For loads of safety tips and information, check out the ABA’s safety page at www.americanboating.org/safety.asp.
Louisiana is truly a “sportsman’s paradise” for boaters, but only if they respect the waterways, obey the laws and always think safety.