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Restrictions have eased but enjoy the outdoors safely

Now that restrictions on outdoor recreation have eased, spring fishing and boating can finally get underway. Washington State Parks Boating Program will step up its emphasis on recreational boating safety on Washington’s waters. 

 “We find that on-the-water accidents and fatalities increase as the weather warms up and more people get out on the water,” said Rob Sendak, State Parks Boating Program manager.

According to Washington’s recreational boating accident data, in the last five years, trends show most accidents and fatalities happen between May and August, and 75 percent of fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket. 

“Boating can be a wonderful way to social distance in the outdoors,” Sendak added. “But we are asking boaters to be safe and consider the first responders who are called out to conduct rescue missions and the potential dangers related to coronavirus exposure.” 

The Boating Program recommends the following safety tips:


Get educated

 Many recreational boaters in Washington must take an approved boating safety education course and carry a Washington State Boater Education Card. All boaters and paddlers are responsible for knowing the laws and keeping themselves and others safe. The Boating Program recommends boating safety courses even for those boaters who don’t have to carry the card. The courses offer training in safety, emergency procedures and navigational rules. More information about boater education:


Conduct a (virtual)

vessel safety check

Local marine law enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons typically have certified vessel examiners who perform free vessel safety checks. However, during this time of social distancing, an online virtual vessel safety check option is available. 


Always wear a life jacket 

State law requires all vessels, including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to have at least one properly fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard. All children, age 12 and younger must wear one at all times. The Boating Program encourages all boaters to wear their life jackets every time they go out on the water. Life jackets have evolved to be sophisticated, comfortable and tailored for specific water activities. More about life jackets:


Follow social media

People can learn about and participate in the National Safe Boating Week campaign through social media by using some of the following hashtags: #SafeBoating #BoatPrepared #WearItWA #SafePaddling

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