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DISTRESS SIGNALS, FIRE EXTINGUISHER ARE MUST-HAVES

Boating: part II

Last week's Part I boating safety checklist included being certified by the state to operate a vessel, obtaining the boater ID card and knowing the requirements for personal flotation devices.

Now, here are a few more items to review.

- Vessels with built-in fuel tanks or enclosed compartments where gasoline fumes can accumulate must carry at least one fire extinguisher (depending on vessel length) approved for marine use.

- All vessels are required to carry a sound-producing device, such as a referee's whistle or handheld horn.

- Vessels less than 16 feet must carry at least three visual distress signals approved for nighttime use when on coastal waters from sunset to sunrise. Vessels 16 feet or longer must have at least three daytime and three nighttime signals (or three combination daytime/nighttime signals) at all times when on coastal waters.

- Recreational vessels must display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze). The U.S. Coast Guard navigation rules specify lighting requirements for every description of watercraft. Information on these requirements and more can be found on state boating safety websites.

- When planning a day on the water, file a "float plan." Tell someone where you are going and with whom - and leave contact information.

- Operating a boat and consuming alcohol do not mix.

- Above all, be prepared, know the rules, watch the weather and use some common sense while out on the water.

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