Recreational boating is all about having fun on the water. Cruising, fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding - it's all a blast! However, some boaters get so caught up in the excitement, they forget to make safety the number one priority. National Safe Boating Week (May 22-28, 2005) presents a great opportunity for boaters to evaluate the safety of their vessels and learn how to avoid dangerous situations.

You take this time to brush up on safe boating practices and ensure your craft is equipped with the latest safety products available. Doing so will allow you rest easier out there and more thoroughly enjoy your on-the-water experience. To get things started, here are five valuable safety tips - each one a potential lifesaver - from the National Safe Boating Council:

As the weather gets warmer and more people begin to prepare for the 2005 boating season, the National Safe Boating Council would like to remind you to "Boat Smart. Boat Safe. Wear It!" throughout National Safe Boating Week, as well as during the rest of the year. "Boat Smart" by being alert and responsible when taking out your boat, "Boat Safe" by making sure you are alert and sober, and always remember to "Wear It"! Wear your life jacket every time you are on the water. An accident can happen very quickly and unexpectedly so you must be prepared in order to help yourself and your passengers on board.

National Safe Boating Week is observed ever year during the first full week before Memorial Day weekend to remind boaters, paddlers, anglers, hunters, Personal Watercraft users, and everyone who participates in activities on the water to be safe and responsible when enjoying our waterways. Be sure to keep the following five important boating safety tips in mind if you are planning on heading out on the water.

Most people who are killed while pleasure boating drown—and most people who drown are not wearing a life jacket. According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics in 2003 of the 703 recreational boating fatalities 86% of those victims drowned not wearing their life jackets. When you capsize, collide, or fall overboard, there is rarely time to get to a stowed life jacket. Modern life jackets are smaller and more comfortable making it easier than ever to "Wear It!" at all times.

An operator with a blood alcohol content above .10—(equivalent to consuming 5 beers in one hour for the average 180-lb. male)—is ten times more likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol. Stressors such as sun, vibration, noise, and other environmental elements affect the body more when you consume alcohol. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all states and violation of Federal law.

Seventy percent of recreational boating accidents are caused by factors that are controlled by the boat’s operator—such as failure to pay attention, carelessness, recklessness, inexperience, excessive speed, and failure to watch for hazards. Boating safety courses are available, inexpensive, and quick—a great way for you to learn safety and the rules of the road.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons® offer a free Vessel Safety Check (VSC). Contact for information.

All boat engines produce Carbon Monoxide (CO)—an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can kill you in a matter of minutes. Boaters are killed every year because of improper cabin ventilation, poorly maintained equipment, and careless behavior. You do not have to be inside the boat to be at risk. Boaters have died from exposure on the swim platforms of their boats and in other areas where CO exhaust may accumulate or be emitted. Be aware of the early symptoms (irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness), and use CO detectors on your boat.

For more information on Safe Boating Tips, life jackets or boating safety events and activities, please visit the North American Safe Boating Campaign website at The National Safe Boating Council would like to wish you a safe and enjoyable summer and remind you to “Boat Smart. Boat Safe. Wear It!”