School and football may have started, but summer is far from over. During the next few weeks, Alabama waterways will continue to attract crowds as everyone tries to squeeze in a little more warm-weather fun. Before hitting the river, beach or lake, remember safety is key.
Here are some tips from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division:
* The designated driver practice works just as well on the water as it does on the road. If boaters insist on having alcohol on board, make sure there is a designated driver.
* Be courteous and cautious.
* Follow boating rules. Know what to do in a head-to-head meeting and know the right-of-way rules and regulations.
* Make sure life jackets are accessible, in good condition, sized for the intended individual and U.S. Coast Guard-approved. There must be one PFD on board for each person on the boat that is sized and intended for that individual. Children younger than the age of 8 must wear PFDs.
* When boating at night, make sure the required navigation lights are on and in good working order. Operate at slower speeds and don’t venture into unfamiliar territory.
* Give other boaters plenty of room. Don’t operate too closely to private docks or the shoreline, and give skiers and swimmers a wide berth.
* Never overload a vessel. Follow the capacity plate guidelines.
* Make it a habit to check the vessel’s safety equipment before using the vessel -- every time.