Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Keep safety in mind this boating season
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Memorial Day weekend
serves as the unofficial start to summer and draws boaters to Kentucky’s lakes
and rivers in droves.
better than a weekend or a day on the water,” said Zac Campbell, boating
education coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Resources. “Kentucky offers so many incredible lakes and rivers that boaters
can enjoy. It’s a great way to spend quality time with family and friends.”
There were more
than 170,000 motorized boats registered last year in Kentucky. A safe experience on the water should be a
top priority because the boating season means more boat traffic and less room
U.S. Coast Guard statistics from 2014
show May as the second deadliest month behind July for boating-related deaths
in the United States.
inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and
alcohol use were the top contributing factors among the 4,064 accidents that
involved 610 deaths in the U.S. as counted by the Coast Guard last year.
percentage of the people who were involved in boating accidents and drowned
last year were not wearing a life jacket at the time, according to Coast Guard
data. Federal and state law requires a Type I-III personal flotation device for
each person onboard a vessel. Children under the age of 12 must wear a life
jacket while in the open part of a boat that is underway.
“Be an alert
operator and aware of your surroundings,” Campbell said. “You’re responsible
for the vessel and everybody on it. Make sure everyone is following the rules
and the laws of the water. It’s also your job to make sure you have all the
necessary safety equipment and see to it that it’s being used by the people on
“All of these
things will help ensure that you have an enjoyable and safe trip on the water.”
There were nine
boating-related deaths on Kentucky waters all of last year, up from five in
2013, according to Coast Guard data. Four people have already lost their lives
in boating-related accidents on Kentucky waters this year.
considering the boating season has not even begun yet,” said Maj. Shane
Carrier, boating law administrator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
conservation officers will be out on the water this holiday weekend to help
ensure everyone’s safety.
consider arranging for a free vessel safety check through the U.S. Coast Guard
Auxiliary at www.cgaux.org. Such checks by certified vessel
examiners help ensure your boat complies with all federal and state boating
laws. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife conservation officers also will perform safety
checks upon request.
resource is the new “Boat Safe Kentucky” app for smartphones.
“The app is
everything you need to know about Kentucky boating, all in one place,” Campbell
download on the App Store on iTunes and Google Play, the free app features a
“Blood Alcohol Estimator” and allows the user to report a reckless boat
operator to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife law enforcement. There’s also a “Find a
Marina” feature that allows users to find the nearest marina and offer the
ability to text your boating plans to family, friends and other contacts.
follow the “Safety Equipment Checklist” prepared by the department’s law
enforcement division before taking to the water:
Registration numbers and decals properly
Registration receipt on board
Wearable life jackets for each person on board
Throwable flotation device
Horn or whistle
Lights (red, green and 360-degree white lights)
12-17 years old who operate a personal watercraft or boat with a 10-horsepower
motor or greater must have a safe boating certificate card or certificate
showing they’ve completed a National Association of State Boating Law
Administrators (NASBLA)-approved boater education course. Boater education courses are offered in
person around the state at no charge and online for a fee. All in-person
courses require online pre-registration. For more information, including course
schedules, visit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov.
“It’s not too late
to take a boater education class,” Campbell said. “It ensures that you know
everything that you need to know to make sure that you, your family and friends
are safe on the water.”