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Boating Safety, Just As Important as Traffic Safety

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

60 people died in boating accidents in Texas last year. In 85 percent of those fatalities, the victims weren't wearing life jackets. Sophie Hiatt is a game warden on Lake Somerville, she patrols the lake making sure boaters are following the law.

If you plan on firing up the motor and heading out, Hiatt has some advice.

"A wearable life jacket is required for each person on board a vessel. Thirteen and over are not required to wear them but they have to have them on the boat," said Hiatt.

But having the life jackets isn't enough to avoid a fine. Hiatt says all life jackets are readily accessible, the proper sizes for each passenger and meet federal regulations.

"It has to be coast guard approved. This is really important for parents shopping for life jackets and PFD's for their children," she said.

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving, but boating and driving is just as dangerous. In fact, the laws are the same.

"The legal limit is .08 BAC just like it is everywhere else statewide for DWI. We do look very hard for persons intoxicated on the water," said Hiatt.

Finally, all boats must have a working fire extinguisher on board.

"There has to be at least one type B1 fire extinguisher on board each vessel. If you have a gage, it does need to be in the green because they will discharge," said Hiatt.

Before you hit the water, make sure you are following all the rules. You could be stopped by a game warden like Hiatt. Boaters violating the law can be charged with a class C misdemeanor with a fine ranging from $25-$500.


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