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Practice common sense safety when boating this summer

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TWC News: Practice common sense safety when boating this summer
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It may come as a surprise that not every state requires a boater's license or even a boat safety course to drive a motor boat.

But just because it's not required doesn't mean it's not smart for boaters to educate themselves about boating safety.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, nearly 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

When it comes to selecting a good life jacket, one size does not fit all.

"There are proper sizes for them," said Saratoga Boat Works Captain Richard Fountain. "It's written right on them. They should be snug and shouldn't be that it can actually come up and go over head when they are in the water."

Kids under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket and there must be one jacket per passenger. Fountain warns against boating in unknown and uncharted waters.

"The worst I have seen is people not watching the buoys," he said. "They should actually look at lake charts before they head out in any unknown water."

Loose ropes can be dangerous, especially around kids.

"(If) a person's foot is close by the rope, the rope gets caught, it drags a person into the prop," Fountain said.

Tubing is popular and fun if done correctly.

"With tubes, there is a certain place to tie the rope," Fountain said. "Sometimes people have tied it in the wrong spot. They get out, they're going too fast and they get it into a curve. That lets go, it rips off. They go flipping upside down. The rope should be tied to the tube and the tube has handles that they hold onto. They should never grab that rope. If that twists around your hand and it jerked hard enough, it could break your wrist or your arm."

The leading factors in accidents are inexperience, inattention and speed, but the number one factor is alcohol.

Fountain said, "It should never be on the boat. It should never mix. It's just like driving a car, you are not supposed drink."

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