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Water safety must be paramount

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With summer weather finally here, coupled with the growing popularity of recreational water activities, people need to be safe, cautious, and aware when out on the water.

“The biggest thing that people don’t follow are the safety rules and by safety rules I mean no life jackets on the boat, overloading the boat, and people--specifically the pilot--drinking,” said Rick Socholotuk, a local boating safety instructor.

According to the 1999 Safe Boating Guide, more than 200 boating fatalities are reported each year--most of which are preventable.

And that figure does not include the estimated 6,000 unreported non-fatal accidents that also occur each year.

Socholotuk advises people who are going out in a boat to bring along all the proper safety equipment on board.

“All the things that are mandatory, and ample fuel should be on board,” he noted. “Use the one-third rule--one-third to get there, one-third to get back, and one-third as reserve.”

Under new federal boating regulations, enforcement officials can now ticket offenders on the spot rather than having the person appear in court.

Tickets can be issued for offences such as not having the required safety equipment on board, disobeying speed limits, or careless operation.

Socholotuk also stressed there should be enough personal flotation devices for everyone in the boat. “And make sure they fit,” he said.

According to statistics released by the OPP Marine Patrol office for Rainy River District, excluding Atikokan, there have three boating accidents here in the previous two years.

Two people were killed in 1998 and one person was injured last year.

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