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West Virginia Wildlife
Boating Safety
Katelyn Sykes Keeping It Safe On The Water

July 2, 2014
Reporter: Katelyn Sykes
Videographer: Brad Rice


Enjoying the summer sun on a boat in West Virginia is a fun activity that is hard to beat, but while you are out on the water having fun, safety is key.

"There are no second chances,” said Sgt. Jerry Payne of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “If you run in a ditch in the road, there's very little chance you're going to fall out of the car and drown. When you have an accident on the water, you're going to end up in the water nine times out of 10, so that's the issue."

Payne said having the right tools on the water are key. This includes floatation devices and life jackets that are wearable and the proper size. Everyone on board is required to at least have a life jacket, and if you are 12 and under, the life jacket must be worn.

Fire extinguishers also are important.

"Nothing is scarier than a fire on a boat,” Payne said. “If that fiberglass catches on fire, you've got trouble, so we'll check your fire extinguisher and make sure you've got one that's charged and ready to go. If you get a back fire or something, you've got to be able to put it out quick."

Your boat also must be equipped with workable lights. That includes red and green navigation lights on the front and a 360 horizon light on the back. The lights must be on if you are boating at night.

On the water, keep an eye on your speed and your surroundings.

"Part of the law says you have to have a proper observer, a good observer, a good lookout and everybody should abide by that,” Payne said. “At night, everybody should be looking. In the day, if you're not busy skiing or something you need to be looking ahead. There are no brakes on boats."

Police said to keep the alcohol at home because operating a boat while drinking is against the law.

Make sure you are carrying the proper identification and cards. If you were born after Dec. 31, 1986, you are required to take a boating class and must carry a card while you are operating a boat.

Overall, Payne said it is about common sense and following these simple steps. By doing this, it allow you to have a fun and safe adventure on the water.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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