As we approach the spring and summer seasons, boating safety should become a topic for discussion among family members. Michigan, with its expansive coastlines among multiple Great Lakes, to say nothing of the numerous smaller lakes, rivers, and impoundment, has one of the more significant uses of recreational watercraft in the nation. Without fundamental attention to the required boating safety rules, dangerous accidents will occur. The boating statistics for the nation and Michigan can be accessed here: http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.php. While they show that safety training and enforcement of the safety rules is helping reduce some of the serious collisions and deaths, unsafe boating practices are still causing many serious injuries and death. These can range from boaters not paying attention to where and what they are doing, intoxicated operation of water craft, to reckless driving, among others.
There are requirements for boating operations and there are safety courses leading to boating safety certificates: https://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/ The Official Michigan Boater Safety Handbook is important: https://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/handbook/
Be aware of your surroundings and the skills and training of those with whom you are boating, including your children. Spotters are required for tubing and skiing and one of the common safety-rule violations is the driver’s failure to maintain a proper and safe lookout (at all times). How many times have you seen the driver looking backwards and not forwards or driving too fast or recklessly? While there is the appearance of fun, there are many dangers and injuries each year throughout Michigan and the nation because of safety-rule violations.
A conservation or DNR officer will also be looking for boat safety—including do you have the correct amount and type of life preservers, do you have a fire extinguisher, and whether or not there is alcohol on board the vessel.
There are Federal Boating Safety Rules as well, and which are incorporated as part of Michigan’s safe boating rules. http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent