Boat safety course recommended before hitting the water

As South Sound residents are readying their boats for the warmest months of the year, several organizations are reminding boater to be serious about safety.

In 2013, more than 2,620 people were injured in boating accidents and 560 were killed nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. In Washington that year, the latest for which statistics are available, there were 17 boating fatalities and 51 injuries.

In Washington, anyone born in 1955 or later must have a boating safety card to operate a boat with a engine of 15 horsepower or greater.

A number of government agencies and boating safety organizations offer boating safety classes.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s office will hold a free safety course June 6 at its offices, 345 W. Main St., Chehalis. There is a $10 feet to get your safety card once you pass the test offered at the end of the class.

The class is limited to the first 25 people to register. Register by calling 360-740-2713.

The class is not required to take the test, which is available online at boat_ed.com. Online courses are also available on the website.

However, the sheriff’s office recommends boaters take the course. So does First Alert, a manufacturer of safety equipment, which recently released a list of boating tips for National Safe Boating Week (May 16-22).

Here’s its list:

Take a course: “The top two contributing factors to boating incidents are operator inattention and inexperience. Boating education courses teach the rules for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, and can help boat operators keep their passengers safe.”

Wear it: “In 71 percent of all fatal boating accidents, the victims drown. Of these, 85 percent are not wearing a life jacket. Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drowning and should be worn at all times by everyone on any boat.”

Upgrade equipment: “Replacing ropes will mean better performance and higher safety assurance. Look for changing color or fraying in your ropes as a signal of age and wear.”

Don't drink: “Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Due to sun exposure and heat, people are likely to become impaired more quickly when on the water.”

Know about carbon monoxide: “Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas that is emitted by all internal combustion engines, such as boat engines and onboard motor generators. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, but CO can kill in a matter of minutes.”