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Boat Passengers Encouraged To Ask Safety Questions

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Erin Hennessey
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Boating on the Puget Sound just off Vashon Island.

As the weather warms up and we move into early boating season, water safety experts are calling on people to be prepared. That includes those of us who are along for the ride. Boat passengers have every right to speak up, says Dan Shipman, recreational boating safety program manager for the Thirteenth Coast Guard District in Seattle.

"I don't think any of the boat owners that I know myself would hesitate to speak up if I'd forgotten to mention something," said Shipman. "If I'm reminded by somebody [about safety issues], I'm not going to be offended by that. You know, where are the life jackets if you want to wear one, although you're not actually required by law to wear one, but they need to be readily available and it needs to fit you."

Other things to consider, says Shipman, include checking the marine weather and dressing for the water temperature. Filing a "float plan" is also advised.

"Any time that you go out boating or paddling, you should always let someone know where you're going, what you're going to be doing and when you're going to return," he said.

And, again, passengers who get invited to go boating should know these things. In other words, don't rely on the boat owner to have all the bases covered. Come prepared yourself and ask questions before taking off.

For Washington's equipment preparation checklist and a downloadable float plan, go to www.boatprepared.com.  The United States Coast Guard also has a boating safety app that allows you to check your safety equipment, view a NOAA buoy, review safety regulations, report pollution or a hazard, request emergency assistance and more.