COLUMBUS — It’s National Fishing, Boating and Beach Safety Week and Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer are asking Ohioans to conduct an insurance and safety review before enjoying the fun and sun at the state’s 77 beaches and 64 inland lakes and Lake Erie, this summer. More than 4.25 million people visited Ohio State Park beaches last year.
For a fourth consecutive year in 2012, Ohio had a record number of registered watercraft (435,310) that ranked among the top ten states nationally. Included in the total were a record 107,671 registered canoes and kayaks, representing an increase of 112 percent since 2002. Recreational boating generates an economic impact for Ohio’s economy that was estimated at $3.5 billion yearly and supporting the equivalent of more than 26,000 fulltime jobs, according to a Great Lakes Commission study released in 2007.
Taylor suggests those with boats and jet skis should conduct an insurance review with their agent. Small boats may be covered by a homeowner’s policy but coverage for liability risk can be limited. A boat of any significant size will likely be excluded from your homeowners policy for both property and liability coverage. Therefore, you may want to consider a separate policy that covers physical damage and the appropriate liability limits. Personal watercraft, such as jet skis, will likely require separate coverage. Ohio law requires boaters born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to successfully complete either a boating course or a proficiency exam in order to operate a boat powered by more than 10 horsepower. ODNR Division of Watercraft offers both online and on the water boater education courses. Find out more at http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/.
“There are a number of recreational opportunities throughout Ohio State Parks and on Ohio waterways,” said Zehringer. “We encourage everyone to follow the appropriate safety guidelines with all of their recreational pursuits.”
ODNR wants to promote safety for families as they swim, boat and play along Ohio’s beaches, lakes and ponds during the 2013 summer season.
Alcohol use should be avoided while boating or swimming. Alcohol and drugs reduce a person’s ability to make quick decisions and handle his or her watercraft in all situations. Many laws pertaining to driving under the influence are also enforced on the water when operating watercraft. ODNR’s law enforcement officers work to keep Ohio waterways, state parks and other lands safe and enjoyable for guests.
Wearing a life jacket anytime while boating is important because life jackets save lives. Ohio law requires all children 10 and younger to wear life jackets on boats less than 18 feet while the boat is underway. Ohio law requires every boat to have on board a life jacket of the proper size and type and that is in good serviceable condition for every person on board. Life jackets are required for anyone driving or riding on a personal watercraft (PWC) regardless of age. When operating a PWC always allow plenty of room for stopping and make sure to operate in water that is at least 30 inches deep. Share the waterways responsibly with other boaters, fishermen, swimmers, surfers, or skiers. Respect their right to use the waterways safely and enjoyably.
Swimming and playing in the water is a great way to keep cool during the summer months. Keep a close eye on the kids while they are near water or swimming in the water. Make sure to have a cellphone nearby in case an emergency occurs. People should only swim in designated areas at the beach and lake. Use the buddy system to stay safe, and have one adult stay on the beach to watch the others who are swimming. Enjoy the fun the water offers, but make sure to take regular breaks and relax on the beach.
Additional safety tips for enjoying the water can be found online at ohiodnr.gov.