Officials stress safety on the water

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) -  With the ice finally off of Lake Erie and the weather warming up, many boaters will be ready to get out on the lake.

Saturday marked the first day of National Safe Boating Week.  Western New York agencies kicked things off with a safety day at the NFTA small boat harbor.

The purpose was to bring more education and awareness to the dangers that can present themselves on the water.

“The biggest thing that we find are that they don’t have life jackets on board.  Another thing is having a float plan,” said Tyler Benson, Petty Officer 1st Class, U.S. Coastguard.  “A float plan is basically having someone knowing where they are going and knowing when they are going to be back and checking in periodically, just to let people know they’re alright.”

Another common problem is not being aware of surroundings.  Boaters often get caught in shallow water and damage their engine.

The New York State Parks are also pushing for life jackets.  They want boaters not only to have life jackets, but to wear them at all times.

“The benefit of this life jacket is, when it is not fully inflated it is light, it is not intrusive, you can move your arms around, you can cast a fishing pole,” said Ro Woodard, New York State Parks Education Specialist.

Woodard also wants to remind boaters than anyone born after May 1, 1996 must have a boating safety certificate to operate a boat.

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