Col. Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, is reminding the public about the importance of safe boating during National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22. National Safe Boating Week is purposefully scheduled just prior to Memorial Day weekend, which many people consider the kickoff to the boating season.

“It’s important that boaters are prepared before they navigate Missouri waterways,” Olson said in a news release. “Checking your boat for the proper equipment and inspecting for any mechanical issues that may have developed over the winter months should be a standard boating practice.”

Boaters who would like an equipment inspection done by a marine trooper can contact their local troop and make that request.

Life jackets should be worn whenever possible out on the water. If not worn, a life jacket must be readily accessible for each occupant on board a vessel. For children under 7, and for the occupants of a personal watercraft underway, wearing life jackets is required.

Boaters should use caution while fueling up their vessel. Fuel leaks can develop over time, so inspecting the engine compartment of an inboard or inboard/outboard vessel prior to use, and each time you refuel, is a must. In addition to inspecting the engine compartment, the blower system should be activated for at least four minutes after refueling is complete, but prior to starting the vessel. Starting a boat engine can ignite gas fumes that have accumulated in the engine compartment.

Here are some other key boat operation tips from MSHP:

• Be aware of boats in the vicinity and maintain a safe distance from them.

• Adjust your speed for the conditions. Not every boat is created equal when it comes to navigating rough water conditions.

• Turn off the boat engine while passengers are entering or exiting the water.

• If you could potentially be out on the water after dark, make sure your navigation lights are working before you leave the dock or ramp.

• Be a courteous boater and watch your wake.

Boaters can contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol by dialing *55 on a cellphone if they need assistance or observe another boater operating a vessel in an unsafe manner.

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