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Boating experts provide safety tips and requirements as Memorial Day weekend approaches

In 2020 over 400,000 Americans bought boats for the first time and boat officials want to make sure these boaters are safe while they are having fun

WRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. — With temperatures getting warmer, many will want to go outside and enjoy spring and summer activities, one of them being boating.

In 2020, over 400,000 Americans bought boats for the first time, but this year Mike Parker, communications director for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says they might be hard to come by.

"A lot of folks who are eager to get out on the water and actually purchase a boat like a kayak or a canoe are finding the store shelves empty, the demand has been that high,” said Parker.

A large amount of boat sales also comes after the pandemic caused many to look elsewhere for vacation activities.

"When their trip to Walt Disney World got canceled suddenly, many people turned to boating and boating became very popular,” said Jim Emmons, executive director of the Water Sports Foundation, Inc.

Boating officials are stressing the importance of education before heading out boating, or kayaking because 70% of boater accidents occurred with the operator not receiving enough safety instruction according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

For this reason, boating experts advise people to take a safe boating course.

"Take a safe boater education course, courses are offered all over the internet,” said Emmons.”

Parker told FOX43 in Pennsylvania, 11 people died onboard in the water last year, and this year three people; all of which did not wear a life jacket.

"We really stress that people need to wear a life jacket, it is required that you have a life jacket onboard a boat for every passenger."

Emmons also warns to remember to have your safety cut-off engine switch connected because it can be life-threatening if you do not.

"Perhaps the boat was to hit a submerged object, or some other catastrophic events were to occur, and the captain gets dislodged from the helm with the throttle down, the boat could just keep going," said Emmons.

As warmer temperatures bring about dining, boating experts also remind people to caution against driving impaired.

"The legal limit for operating any boat in Pennsylvania whether it's a big motorboat or an unpowered kayak is the same as driving a car .08 blood alcohol content,” he said, “don't boat impaired, on a sunny day like this, alcohol is going to impair your judgment, it's going to slow reaction times and that could be a really dangerous situation."

To allow others to help you if you do find yourself in danger, you should have a plan in place before you ride in the water.

"Letting someone who’s not with you a friend, a relative, send them a text, say 'hey I'm putting in at this time, I expect to be home at this time,' that way if you do run into trouble, we know where to go looking for you,” said Parker.

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