COUNTRY Financial® offers six essentials for safe boating

Bloomington – If your vacation or summer plans include hitting the water on a powerboat, sail boat, or personal watercraft, you’ll be joining 141.6 million Americans who went boating and nearly a quarter million registered boats that will hit the water in Illinois, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Proper protections and safety procedures are two things to consider with your recreational vehicle as you look to add a splash of fun this summer.
As watercraft owners make sure their boat and family are protected, experts suggest they talk to their insurance agent to make sure the watercraft is properly insured. One recommendation is to consider that boat insurance may be a separate policy for extended coverage, or an addition to your home policy for limited coverage of smaller boats.

No matter the size of your watercraft, COUNTRY Financial Senior Loss Control Representative Eric Vanasdale, suggests boaters take these simple steps toward a safe summer experience to provide everyone some smooth sailing this summer:

Know the weather
Storms on open water often intensify quickly. Always check the weather forecast before departing. If you see bad weather heading your way, wait for it to pass or keep your boat docked.

Check your tow
The excitement of being on the water makes it easy to forget transporting your boat to it in the first place. Remember to maintain your truck and boat trailer – boat trailers are often neglected because they don’t get used often which could result in flat tires, mechanical failure or burnt-out lights.

Stay Alert, Watch for Swimmers
Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a careful lookout. Keep an eye out for swimmers and keep a safe distance away from anyone who is in the water.

Leave alcohol on dry land
A couple cold ones could impair your judgment quicker than you think – strong sun exaggerates alcohol’s affect. Boating while intoxicated is against the law and carries penalties similar to driving while intoxicated penalties, including possible Driver’s License suspension.
Use life jackets and other safety devices

While no one expects a boating accident to happen, it’s always important to be prepared. Make sure you have a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet or longer. The USCG estimates 80% of all boating fatalities could be prevented if victims wear lifejackets.

You should also have a fire extinguisher, floating pouch with cell phone, maps, flares and first aid kit in case of emergencies.


Safety Check
Have your vessel checked for safety. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Coast Guard staffers will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters. Make sure your vessel is as safe as possible. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at http://www.uscg.mil for further information. Boaters are also encouraged to make sure they are aware of the state and municipal laws that may provide additional requirements for the body of water being used.

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