Safety on the water

As the temperature rises, so does the itch to go boating. Visions of cool water, the smell of sunscreen, and the rumble of a healthy motor have taken over. Avid boaters have been yearning for this season for months.
In the midst of the anticipation and excitement, it's easy to forget boating safety measures. Review these tips before you launch:

• Prepare your boat and know the law
    • Take a boating safety course.
    • Have complete knowledge of the operation and handling of your boat.
    • Make sure your boat is in top operating condition.
• Have the proper items on board
    • State registration, numbering, and letters.
    • Personal flotation device for each person on board
    • Visual and sound-producing distress signal
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Navigation lights, required from sunset to sunrise
• Operate your boat safely
    • Never operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Maintain a safe speed at all times.
    • Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions
    • Maintain focus; most boating collisions are caused by lack of attention.
• Tell a family member, friend, or neighbor where you are going and when you plan to return.