Safety comes first on our waterways

— As the weather warms and summer approaches, we can all look forward to our first time on the water this boating season. Whether it is spent fishing, swimming or hanging out with friends and family, there’s nothing better than spending a day on the water. We all know that safety is so important when out on the water and that is why I want to let you know that there is a new law that requires certain boat operators to obtain a boating safety certificate. We need to make sure that everyone safe on the water and that it’s incredibly important for every boat operator be properly educated and experienced.

Sadly, according to the New York State Parks Department, there were 195 boating accidents with 112 injuries and 18 fatalities reported in New York state last year. And although the yearly number of recreational boating accidents has declined significantly within the past 20 years, there are measures that can be taken to further reduce the dangers of boating.

The new law, which went into effect May 1, will phase in the requirement of safety classes for all boat operators. Beginning this year, all persons 18 years old or younger must first obtain a safety certificate before operating a boat, and within a period of years, all boat operators, regardless of age, must do the same. The law covers all motorized water vessels and also specifies that no one under the age of 10 can operate such vessels. Safety certificates can be acquired after completing an eight-hour safe boating course with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, the U.S. Power Squadrons or the U.S. Coast Guard.

Upcoming boater safety courses — open to adults and children — will be held:

Saturday, May 17, at the Brewerton Fire Department, 9625 Brewerton Road, Brewerton. To schedule, call Jason Wright at 415-8006.

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