Friday, May 18, 2012

Boat Safety Saturday: Boat check, classes may save insurance costs -- and lives

Tomorrow is Boat Safety Saturday in Dane County. Boaters will learn key safety tips that will help keep water trips safe and fun -- and also possibly save boat owners insurance dollars.

A team of boat experts from the Department of Natural Resources, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and several fire departments from Madison, McFarland, Maple Bluff and Middleton will be making the rounds to boat landings to visit with boaters about their vessel equipment, safety classes and the importance of always wearing a life jacket.

It’s all part of National Safe Boating Week, which starts Saturday and leads in the Memorial Day weekend.

The participating agencies will have their equipment on display for you to enjoy. As time allows, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be offering free vessel safety checks for trailered boats only. Some insurance companies offer discounts on vessels certified by such inspections. Others give discounts for boaters who complete certified boat safety classes. Ask your company!

The schedule for Saturday’s safe boating kick-off is:

  • 8 to 9:30 a.m. – Babcock Park boat landing, US Highway 51 in McFarland
  • 10 - 11:30 a.m. – Olin Park boat landing, John Nolen Drive in Madison
  • Noon to 2 p.m. – Warner Park boat landing, Northport Drive in Madison

Of the 23 boating fatalities in Wisconsin last year, 13 were due to drowning and none of the victims was properly wearing a life jacket. From 2007 – 2011, there were 67 people who drowned in boating incidents in Wisconsin and 91 percent of them were not wearing life jackets.

Please stay safe as you enjoy Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes and 84,000 miles of rivers. Get your boat checked, take a class and always wear your life jacket. New styles are comfortable! “The belief you will be able to get the jacket on as you fall over the boat’s side for whatever reason is unrealistic,” DNR Boating Law Administrator Roy Zellmer says. For more information, visit and search boat.