Viewpoint: June 21, 2013

As summer approaches, people are spending more time on the water, but before starting up the engine on your boat, remember that safety should come first. Cruising down our local rivers, canals and waterways is a great way to spend the weekend, but it takes only seconds for a day of fun on the water to turn tragic or fatal.

Make sure all children wear life jackets and there is a life jacket on board for every adult. Don't drink and drive a boat, for the same reasons you don't get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol. Check your safety equipment regularly. Fire extinguishers, safety lines, anchors and other equipment should all be checked to make sure they're in good working condition.

Consider taking a safety course and having other adults and older children join in. This is the best way to learn how to avoid collisions, handle sudden changes in weather and deal with unexpected emergencies. Having fun on the water is a big part of our Louisiana culture, but this summer, take steps to keep it safe for our families and everyone around us.