Boating safety is essential

The need for boating safety has never been more clear than it became this past weekend.

An accident on Lay Lake in South Shelby County claimed the life of a 30-year-old former baseball standout from Thompson High School.

This was only one of the three water fatalities in the Birmingham area this past weekend, proving boats can be just as dangerous as cars.

According to a member of the Marine police, the accident on Lay Lake was just that &045; an accident; although, it was a very tragic one.

As we get farther into the summer, more and more local residents and visitors alike will be traversing our waterways.

It is absolutely essential that precautions are taken on those waterways.

Certain safety rules apply when boating:

n Life jackets and safety harnesses are essential and should be provided for everyone on board. They could ensure survival but only if worn.

n Warm and protective clothing including sunglasses should be available.

n Boaters should carry an alternative means of propulsion and a spare can of fuel.

n Always carry a tow-rope, and vessels should be equipped with navigation lights when operated between sunrise and sunset and during periods of limited visibility.

n Boaters should keep a good look-out at all times and be sure to be aware of the surroundings.

n Do not drink alcohol while boating.

n A vessel overtaking another vessel may pass on either side, but the vessel being overtaken has the right-of-way.

n When meeting head-on, each vessel should keep to the right.

n The boat on the right has the right-of-way. Slow down and allow it to pass.

n Obey all restrictive signs and buoys. Operate at an idle speed around gas docks and loading docks.

Obeying these and other safety rules is the only way to ensure that members of our community and visitors alike will be safe