Prepare for Missouri boating season: Take a boating safety course

866863_seattle_boating.jpgThankfully, warmer temperatures have made their way back to the Ozarks this week, and it won't be long before boating season is upon us once again! To promote safe boating and help prevent boating accidents, Missouri law requires certain individuals to pass a state-approved boating education course before hitting the water.

These individuals include:

• Operators who were born after January 1, 1984.

• Operators who have been convicted of certain boating offenses, which include boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, negligent operation of a vessel, leaving the scene of an accident, and failing to yield to an emergency watercraft. Click here for more information.

Boating safety certification courses: What Missouri boaters need to know

• You are required to pre-register online in order to take a course. Courses have a maximum size and may also be cancelled if there is not sufficient interest. Click here to pre-register, or to view a complete list of boating safety classes offered throughout the state.

• You must be present at the course in order to receive certification.

• The course is free. If you pass, you can order a boating safety certification card for $15.

• There is also an online boating safety course available, which is approved by the Highway Patrol. Click here for more information.

Boating accidents: The statistics

• According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,588 boating accidents nationwide in 2011. These accidents caused 758 deaths, over 3,000 injuries, and $52 million in costs associated with property damage.

• Here in Missouri, the Patrol says 19 people were killed and 86 people were injured in 2011 boating accidents.

• Of 2011 boating accident deaths nationwide, 70% drowned, and of that number, 84% were not wearing life jackets.

• Only 11% of boating accident fatalities nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety training.

• The Coast Guard reports that the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are as follows: operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and equipment failure.

Here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we encourage you to make safety a priority when you're on the water this year. Happy boating!