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Coast Guard cautions boaters to take care

As hundreds of folks take to the waters on Memorial Day weekend in and around Van Buren County, the Coast Guard reminds boaters and all water enthusiasts to always wear their life jacket while on their boat or in the water.

May 17 was the first day of National Safe Boating Week and the Coast Guard encourages all boaters to choose life jackets that fit properly and, most importantly, wear them.

Every boater should know the following about life jackets:

• Certain life jackets are designed to keep your head above water and help you remain in a position which permits proper breathing.

• To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and longer must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well.

• All states have regulations regarding children wearing life jackets.

• Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. Special life jackets are available. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.

• Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once each year. Waterlogged, faded or leaky jackets should be discarded.

• Life jackets must be properly stowed.

• A life jacket — especially a snug-fitting flotation coat or deck-suit style — can help you survive in cold water.

Federal law requires life jackets on board for the operator and each passenger, and all children 13 years old and under are required to wear a life jacket.

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