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Michigan trade group hands out boating safety tips

The MBIA is encouraging safe boating as spring launch approaches with National Safe Boating Week, which runs from May 12-22.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association is encouraging safe boating as spring launch approaches with National Safe Boating Week, which runs from May 16-22.

Michigan is third in the nation in boating registrations, competing with states such as Florida, California and Minnesota. The Coast Guard reports that Michigan boating fatalities were down 11 percent in 2014 with 16, compared with 18 in 2013.

“Boating safety has made great strides with education, awareness and improved safety gear. Boating is a safe way to share incredible moments with family and friends,” MBIA executive director Nicki Polan said in a statement.

“We’re gearing up for another great boating season in Michigan with higher water levels, low fuel prices and a thriving industry post-recession. Our boaters are responsible, with a low rate of accidents and fatalities,” Polan said.

Fatalities were one in 4,376 in 1967, compared with one in 39,473 in 2014.

The MBIA reminds boaters of a few safety tips:

  • Wear it! The National Safe Boating Council promotes National Safe Boating Week with a Wear It! campaign promoting life-jacket awareness. Of all fatal boating accident victims who drown, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Towing: When pulling a skier, tube or other towable, be sure to have a spotter on your vessel. All those being towed must wear an approved life jacket and know proper hand gestures to signal to the spotter.
  • Diving flag recognition: Learn to recognize a diver flag. Boaters need to stay 200 feet away from a dive flag unless they are tendering for the diving operation.
  • Marina safety: Never swim within a marina. Electric shock drowning occurs when water is charged with electricity and electrocutes swimmers, paralyzing them and causing them to drown. This can happen in a marina setting where boats are powered.
  • The entire Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities can be found on the website of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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