Remember your jackets!

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National Safe Boating Week is this week, just in time to remind us all of the need for safety as Memorial Day arrives and the summer season kicks off.
    The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is reminding all boaters to remember some important safety tips this boating season. 
    Tops among them: to always wear a life jacket while on the water. 
    A significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets, a press release from VDGIF states, which reminds boaters to “Wear It.”
    Make a commitment to wear life jackets at all times while on the water, is the tip.
    Boat owners need to take time now to make sure they have life jackets in good condition that fit every occupant of the boat, including children. 
    And don’t let fashion be an excuse. Notes VDGIF, “There are numerous life jacket designs that appeal to youngsters, and by getting them involved in the selection they are more likely to wear one without a fuss.”
      Inflatable life jackets make it easy for adults to “Wear It” while enjoying their time on the water and being a good role model for young people on their boats.
    And don’t forget that boating safety course.
    VDGIF reminds everyone of the law: Virginia’s Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement states boaters must take a boating safety education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. 
    This requirement is being phased in over the next several years and applies to all Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators and operators of boats with motors of 10hp and greater. Currently, all PWC operators age 14 and older and motorboat operators 30 and younger must complete a boating safety education course and have proof of that in their possession while operating a boat or PWC.  The next important date is July 1, 2013, when all motorboat operators age 40 and younger will be required to complete a boating safety education course and carry proof of that in their possession while operating the vessel.
    An optional Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card is available to those who meet the boating safety education requirement.  This durable, ‘driver’s-license’ styled card is available for a fee of $10.  You can get an application by visiting the Web site: www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating/lifetime-boater-card/.
    To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating safety education courses, visit the Department’s web site at: www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating. 
    Everyone needs to practice safety and be smart. “Do your part by wearing your life jacket and taking a boating safety education course.  Be responsible, be safe, and have fun,” states the VDGIF.
    We agree.