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Washington has some problems with boating safety. According to the Washington State Parks Boating Program, there were 25 accidents involving recreational boats in just 30 days over part of July and August this year. While the exact number of injuries aren’t tallied, there were at least five fatalities.

Recreational boating can be awesome for the people who enjoy it — but too many people take liberties when they’re on the water that they wouldn’t take behind the wheel of a car. Consider, for example, what happened down in Texas when boaters let their enthusiasm carry themselves away during a parade. They circled around each other too closely and too fast, creating wakes that ultimately capsized or flooded smaller vessels, sinking some and injuring quite a few people.

That’s why boaters are being urged to remember the following rules:

  • Education matters. Whether you own a boat or are merely renting, make sure that you’re up to speed on basic navigational and safety measures, including emergency procedures.
  • Check your safety equipment. Every boat should have flares, a navigation light, a first aid kit and a horn or whistle in case of emergencies.
  • Insist on life jackets. At no point should anybody on a boat be without a life jacket. It’s the number one way to prevent accidental drownings if someone falls overboard.
  • Sobriety matters. Don’t give in to the temptation to think that anything goes while you’re out on the water. Make sure that the captain is always sober.
  • Share the details of your trip. Filing a float plan with someone in your family or circle of friends knows where you are headed and how long you expect to be gone.

Despite your best efforts, you can still end up seriously injured or a loved one can be killed in a boating accident with a reckless or negligent boater. If that happens, find out more about what it takes to hold the other party accountable.