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Guest columnist: Stay safe on Placer County waterways

By: Devon Bell Placer County undersheriff
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Summertime is upon us. It?s the time of the year for fun, relaxation, spending time with family and enjoying everything this beautiful county has to offer. As temperatures rise and folks hook up their boats and flock to our local rivers, reservoirs and lakes, I would like to remind people to be safe. The U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate boating fatalities jumped 12.8 percent in 2011 and are at the highest level since 1998. Last year, 533 of the 758 of the nation?s boating fatalities were as a result of drowning. Sadly, 84 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. Unfortunately, those national statistics are reflected locally. Every year, boating on our local waterways ends in tragic circumstances, many of which were preventable. So what can you do? ? Vessel safety check: Have your boat inspected to insure it is properly equipped. The Coast Guard Auxiliary (cgaux.org), any boating officer, or your local marina can assist with this. ? Boating safety courses: Operator error accounts for 70 percent of boating accidents. The California Department of Waterways offers these courses (dbw.ca.gov) ? Carbon monoxide: Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide emitted from your boat engine. ? Always wear your life jacket. Children under 12 must wear them while on the water. ? Avoid alcohol. It is dangerous and illegal to operate a vessel under the influence. ? Have a plan, let people know where you are and stay in control. Remember there are often submerged obstacles and debris under the surface. ? Exercise caution around other boats or swimmers. ? Learn to swim and never swim alone. ? Learn Red Cross CPR. Enjoy the summer and have fun on our waterways and remember, nobody said you can?t stay safe and enjoy yourself at the same time.