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Over Memorial Day weekend on Cheat Lake in Monongalia County, 12 people were injured in a boating accident. The accident was reported just before 9 p.m. on Monday close to the Cheat Lake’s Sunset Beach Marina near Warm Hollow. DNR officials believe that a 23-foot Malibu speed boat hit the shore with 12 individuals aboard. Nine of the individuals were transported to local hospitals, while three were taken by air in critical condition.
When we are behind the wheel of a car, drivers are aware of the possible risks of collisions that are associated with vehicles. However, individuals often don’t consider the dangers that are lurking behind recreational vehicles such as boats. Most people are looking forward to a fun filled day of relaxation, and don’t understand the likelihood of expensive property damage, serious injury, and even death that can potentially come along with boating accidents.
While we hope you enjoy your weekends off at the local lakes and rivers, we urge you to consider these ten tips for preventing boating injuries and maximizing a fun and safe weekend:
1. Don’t speed.
2. Know your boats capacity. Overloading your boat with equipment or too many passengers will increase the chances of capsizing, swamping, or other major accidents. All boats have weight capacities that should be posted near the operator’s position.
3. Be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure life jackets, along with other safety gear is in fine operational condition, and that you accurately understand the instructions.
4. Read the liability waiver carefully if you are renting a boat. Renting a boat often comes with a liability waiver, so be sure to read the document carefully to ensure you know what you may be bound by if something happens. Be sure of what you are agreeing to.
5. Maintain your boat properly. It is important that the boat is operating in good condition before each outing.
6. Enroll in a boating safety course. What better way to ensure that you are operating the boat in a safe and efficient way than to take a safety course. It will assist in preventative procedures and advice to make boating a great experience every time.
7. Know about life jacket laws. Although some states do not have life jacket laws, the US Coast guard requires anyone under the age of 13 to have a life jacket on when the boat is in motion.
8. Be aware of the weather. Being out on rough water is very dangerous, and could leave you stranded and with the possibly of risking your life.
9. Don’t drink and operate a boat. Alcohol consumption can significantly increase the odds that someone will be injured. It’s also against the law!
10. Don’t turn off or lower the volume on your emergency radio. Make sure you can always hear the emergency radio in order to hear major announcements and crash warnings.