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Safety corner: remember Louisiana legal requirements for boating, personal watercraft

By Keith Lear 2nd Bomb Wing Safety Office

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During the summer months it's time to get out on the lakes and have some fun. However, like any activity it needs to be done responsibly. It is also a personal responsibility to know and understand any laws that may be associated with boating and jet-skiing. The following is an excerpt of Louisiana laws that pertain to these activities.

In addition to adhering to all boating laws, personal watercraft operators have requirements specific to their vessel. Persons born after Jan. 1, 1984, may not operate a motorboat or PWC powered by a motor in excess of 10 horsepower unless he or she has successfully completed a boating safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. These persons must be in possession of evidence of completion of the approved course whenever operating such a vessel. Persons born between Jan. 1, 1984 and Jan. 1, 1988 have until July 1, 2010, to complete a course successfully.

It is illegal for anyone under 16 years old to operate a PWC. Each person riding on a PWC must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket. It is illegal to operate a PWC between sunset and sunrise. PWCs must be operated in a careful and responsible manner.

For example, it is illegal for PWC operators to: weave the PWC through congested waterway traffic, jump the wake of another vessel when visibility is obstructed and operate in a manner that requires swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.

Go to http://www.boat-ed.com/louisiana/index.html to take the Louisiana Boater Education class online. Remember--as the owner or person in charge of a PWC, it is illegal for you to allow anyone else to operate the PWC in a way that violates the laws of Louisiana.