With Summer Comes Concern For Boating, Water Safety

By Nicholas Cafalone, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – As summer approaches, there is a greater need to increase the awareness of boating safety and cleanliness in Oswego County to ensure smooth sailing.

Dave White, creator of New York’s Sea Grant’s Discover Clean and Safe Boating education campaign, wants to help spread information on how boaters enjoying what they love can also stay safe and help avoid the spread of invasive species.

“Boaters were identifying themselves and saying we’d like to know more about being a good steward. Boaters already are good stewards, but how could they be even better stewards,” said White when asked why the education campaign started.  “They wanted to know about more about boating safety and clean boating and invasive species.”

To aid in raising awareness, White uses a canoe and a fishing boat as visual aids while he tours boat shows through New York; both boats have been donated.

“Both vessels are completely outfitted with the all safety equipment that is required or recommended, clean products that are recommended and then invasive species information on how you can prevent transporting them,” said White. “I could have a table out with all this information on it and it’d be snoozer. So, we said, ‘How about we get a boat and outfit the entire thing with all the equipment so people could walk by and see.’”

White stresses that the most important piece of equipment while using a watercraft is the life jacket, not just ensuring that boaters have them but the right ones as well.

When purchasing a life jacket boaters need to ensure that they are the proper type, size and amount of buoyancy.

These guidelines can be found in the New York State Boater’s Guide, which is accessible online.

In addition to life jackets boaters should ensure that they have flares that are not expired and a charged fire extinguisher.

White wants boaters to know that flares expire after three years and a fire extinguisher can lose its charge.

Boaters should also be sure not to pollute while they are out on the water.

Along side safety White teaches about equipment like bilge socks and fuel nozzle bibs that aid in stopping spills of oil and fuel.

Boating safety is not the only concern when it comes to enjoying the water, he noted.

Boaters also need to be conscience of transporting invasive species to different bodies of water.

They need to be sure that they clean any piece of equipment that comes into contact with the water.

“People will hose off their boat and trailer, they’ll check and make sure all the weeds are gone, but it’s all the other stuff that we forget about. Everything that can come into contact with a body of water can become infected or transport something to the next body of water,” said White.

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water awarded White with its 2010 Environmental Leadership Commendation for creating the Discover Clean and Safe Boating program.