Boat safety in Michigan

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Make the most of your next boating adventure with some safety tips, tricks and best practices from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The top five factors for boating accidents include inexperience, lack of attention, improper lookout, machinery failure and alcohol use.

Accidents happen, but planning and being prepared saves lives. Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 76 percent of all fatalities. Almost 85 percent of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.

Life jackets and fire extinguishers are legally required on a boat. Additionally, it is always good to carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor. Other safety considerations include making sure navigation lights are working properly and the cabin is properly ventilated to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning.

Alcohol use is the leading contributor in fatal boating accidents. It was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of deaths where the primary cause of the accident was known. Alcohol impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.

Officials recommend having a float plan which includes informing someone who is not boating with you about the details of the trip such as where you will be, the route you plan to travel, how long you expect to be gone, when you plan to return and emergency phone numbers.

Be prepared with a cell phone or marine radio to report accidents, a disabled boat or any need for medical assistance.

It is always important to stay alert on a boat by watching for other boats, swimmers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operation in crowded areas or at night when visibility is restricted.

In addition to recreational issues, be aware of commercial fishing nets and buoys. Nets can sometimes break away and float to the surface where they entangle boats.

Boating inspection points

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