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    Kansas Boater Education Fosters Safety on the Water

    Summer is just around the corner, and many Kansas boaters have already begun a new boating season. For those who haven’t, there are the usual preparations such as changing the lower unit grease and putting new spark plugs in the outboard, making sure life jackets are in good condition, and checking the fire extinguisher charge. And the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) reminds boaters about the importance of boater education before taking to the water.

    Any person age 12 through 20 who wishes to operate a vessel (personal watercraft, power boat, sailboat) in Kansas without direct supervision must complete an approved boater education course. Direct supervision means being able to take over in case of an emergency. For a personal watercraft, this means that the supervising adult must be on the same vessel, not riding next to it. The supervising adult must be at least 18 years old and either have completed a boater education course or be exempt because they are older than 21. No one younger than 12 may operate a vessel without supervision regardless of boater education certification, and the course is recommended for everyone.

    Courses are offered in three different formats: traditional classroom, home study, or Internet-based. Traditional instruction is provided by trained volunteers, KDWPT natural resource officers, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Home study and online Internet course work are also provided. All courses must be at least eight hours long. A list of courses and more details may be found on the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com, under “Boating/Boating-Education.”

    The Kansas Boating Education Program is designed to reduce boating accidents and violations while promoting legal, courteous, and responsible boating practices. Boating safety and responsibility are stressed throughout the course. Additional topics include ethics and courtesy, accident prevention, general information about boats, safe operating procedures, required safety equipment, boating laws, and general boating safety concerns.

    More 80,000 boats are registered in the state of Kansas, so being aware of boating regulations and safe boating practices is essential. Taking a boating education class will help ensure that your trip to the lake is safe and enjoyable for the whole family, and completion of an authorized course might even entitle you to a discount on boat insurance.

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