Understand Boat Safety Before You Go Near the Water

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Each summer millions of people hop aboard boats to participate in one of America's favorite pastimes. But whether they're on sailboats, powerboats or jet-skis, boating can present risks. In fact, in 2009, the most current data available, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,730 boating accidents and 736 deaths.

You can protect yourself by understanding some basic safety rules.

Many boating accidents are preventable. Just knowing the causes of common accidents can help you avoid them. 80 percent of boating accidents involve operator factors - the skipper may not be paying attention, is careless or reckless, is inexperienced, or is speeding.

The Allstate Safe Boater Pledge, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Safe Boating Council, recommends that boaters:

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Understand Boat Safety Before You Go Near the Water
• Take a boating education course. Allstate offers discounts (subject to availability and qualifications) to boaters who have successfully completed qualifying boating courses from groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and U.S. Power Squadron.
• Make wearing life jackets a rule. Most states require having a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board your boat for all passengers.
• Don't mix drinking and boating.
• Know the weather and water conditions.
• File a float plan; give the information to a friend or relative who can call for help if you do not return as scheduled.
• Observe the nautical rules-of-the road including speed limits.
• Get a courtesy vessel safety check.
• Report emergencies via Ch. 16 on a marine VHF-FM radio.
• Do not discharge oil, trash or sewage into the water.
• Properly insure the boat and make sure it has sufficient coverage.
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