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IN makes splash for Safe Boating Week

Kids jumping off the back of a boat into the water.
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Kids jumping off the back of a boat into the water.

Hoosiers are launching their boats to enjoy another season on the water. However, before jumping aboard, now is an ideal time to review safety plans and brush up on boating laws.

John Gano, master conservation officer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, has spent summers patrolling popular recreational boating spots in Indiana for nearly 30 years. He spends most summer weekends on Geist and Morse Reservoirs and said it is imperative boaters know what is expected of them while out on their voyage.

"Certainly, the basic safety regulations, equipment for the boat, how to properly number your boat, moving violations that we look for that are unsafe," Gano outlined. "People that might be riding on the gunwale or the bow of the board in an unsafe position where they could come overboard and be run over."

Gano recommended before your first boat ride this season, run through a checklist to make certain your vessel is ready. He noted it is not necessary to memorize the boating manual and regulations but boat operators should be familiar with the rules.

For some Hoosiers, spending the day on the boat includes drinking alcohol. Gano pointed out it is important for boat drivers to remain sober for everyone's safety. Indiana law is the same whether you're behind the wheel of a car or boat: If your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher, you will be arrested. However, impaired driving is not the only reason for which boaters may be stopped.

"On those stops, we're going to obviously do inspections for safety gear like life jackets and things like that," Gano emphasized. "Sometimes, we determine other things about the boat itself that could be unsafe."

Indiana law requires a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket be available for everyone aboard. Boaters planning to tow passengers for tubing, water skiing or wakeboarding should put on their life jacket before jumping into the water. Failing to do so could easily mean the difference between a fun day or a tragic day on the lake.

Joe has more than 35 years experience working in Indiana newsrooms. He started his first job when he was 16 years old in Logansport at the hometown radio station. He loved broadcasting so much he eventually joined the team fulltime.
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