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Boating safety tips include how to avoid COVID-19

Erin Hennessey

Every year, recreational boaters are reminded to stay safe on the water, to wear life jackets and avoid using alcohol and drugs. This time around, the warnings include tips for avoiding coronavirus.

Washington State Parks officials are encouraging boaters to explore waterways close to home and to, as much as possible, avoid contact with people at marinas and boat ramps. And to wash hands after touching surfaces on fuel pumps and marina gates. Wearing masks on and off the water is highly recommended.

Right now, marine parks are only open until dusk, and even when they are open the state is telling boaters not to assume the restrooms and other facilities are, as well. The state says boaters should carry all the essentials with them so that they can avoid stops as much as possible.

Under the current guidelines, only people living in the same household can be on a boat together. And, if you’re out alone in a kayak, you need to stay 6 feet from other paddlers.

The state is still emphasizing the traditional tips for boaters, such as the importance of wearing a life jacket. So far this year, six people have died in boating accidents. None were wearing life jackets.

Another reminder from safety officials is that lakes and rivers are under 60 degrees this time of year. They say one of the biggest risks isn't hypothermia, it's cold water shock, which can happen immediately, seriously affecting your breathing and ability to move.

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Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.