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Missouri State Highway Patrol observes National Safe Boating Week


Col. Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, would like to stress the importance of safe boating and make the public aware of National Safe Boating Week, which takes place May 18-24. National Safe Boating Week is purposefully scheduled just prior to Memorial Day weekend, which many people consider the kickoff to the boating season.

Weather, time, and other elements may affect a boat's readiness. Before taking that inaugural 2024 summer boat cruise, boaters are encouraged to make time for a thorough inspection of their boat.

The Patrol’s marine operations troopers prioritize boating safety and are available to inspect a boat’s required equipment to ensure compliance with state law. Additional information on equipment inspection stations may be obtained from your local troop headquarters.

In addition to an inspection, boaters should familiarize themselves with Missouri laws regarding boat operation and traditional navigational rules. Missouri law requires everyone born after Jan. 1, 1984, who operates a vessel on Missouri lakes to possess a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety identification card. This includes those operating a personal watercraft.

A drowning can occur quickly, with little or no sign the victim is struggling. Preliminary statistics indicate there were 28 drownings in Missouri in 2023. In 2023, there were 159 boating crashes in Missouri, which included 89 injuries and six fatalities.

While boating, a life jacket is a must for everyone on board. Children under 7 are required to wear a personal flotation device while in a boat, but the Highway Patrol says that you are never too old to wear a life jacket. Although not required by law, MSHP also encourages children playing along the shoreline or on a dock to wear a life jacket.

It is important for each boat operator to know their boat’s capabilities. Reducing speed in unfamiliar areas and being aware of unusual water conditions respective to the size and type of boat are just a couple of environmental considerations.

Extended time in the sun and the constant motion of the water affect every vessel operator. It's important to recognize the dangers of boater fatigue. Stay alert while enjoying Missouri's lakes and rivers. Additionally, designate a sober captain if you choose to consume alcohol.

Additional safe boating tips:

• Be a defensive boat operator: creating distance from other boats gives you more reaction time.

• Adjust your speed for the conditions: if visibility is poor or the water is rough, slow down.

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

• If you will be out on the water after dark, check your navigation lights before you leave the dock or ramp.

• Each boat operator is responsible for doing whatever they can to avoid a crash. Don’t expect other boats to move out of your way.

• Be courteous with your wake.

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

Release courtesy of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.