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Being out on the water can be a lot of fun, but it also requires responsiblity and taking precautions to be safe. Whether you're a new or experienced boating enthusiast, use this boating safety checklist to help you prepare and stay safe on while afloat.

Arm yourself with swimming and boating skills: enroll in a swim course and boating course in your area.

Buckle up with a comfortable and properly fitted life jacket.

Install and maintain a CO detector in accommodation areas. Remember that you can be exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide both inside and outside the boat.

Watch the weather to prepare for local conditions and electrical storms. Because water conducts electricity, it is time to stop boating if you can see or hear a storm.

Communicate your trip details in case of emergency. Tell your plan to a friend on the mainland: who is on the boat, where you will be, and how long you will be gone.

Never operate a boat while or after drinking alcohol.

Remember to keep all boat maintenance chemicals in their original containers. Keep these, as well as medications, lighter fluid, bug killers, lamp oil and alcohol out of sight and reach of children.

Post the Poison Control Center number, 1-800-222-1222, on the boat and call its 24-hour hotline for any suspected problems or questions concerning carbon monoxide or other poison emergencies.

List CPR instructions and a local emergency number on the boat. Keep up-to-date on CPR procedures.

Power boat safetyMaintain constant supervision of children, regardless of their swimming abilities or use of life jackets.

Do not swim or wade near a boat's exhaust pipe, sit on the swim platform when the engine is running, or hold onto the deck while the boat is moving. Keep your boat a minimum of 20 feet from the nearest running generator or engine. Never, ever enter the enclosed exhaust vent area under a swim platform! Exhaust from boat engines can be deadly sources of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Source: National Safe Boating Council

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