Springfield residents David Hays and his son paddle the James River Water Trail in a canoe rented from the Lake Springfield Boathouse and Marina. Both are wearing suitable life vests. (Photo by Wes Johnson)

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by  Gail Kulp, Sea Tow Foundation, Southold, N.Y.

There’s a reason the saying is “Safety First.”

recent incident in the Springfield area highlights just how important boating safety is. A woman was thrown off her Personal Watercraft, or PWC, on Table Rock Lake and was moderately injured. Luckily, she was wearing a life jacket and was able to receive medical attention, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case for everyone. 

When using a PWC, don’t forget the following safety tips and rules:

  1. Always wear your life jacket — if knocked unconscious or hurt when entering the water, it can be impossible to swim. 
  2. Attach an engine cut-off lanyard to your life jacket. If you get thrown overboard, the PWC engine will stop, and it will be easier to get back on the vessel. 
  3. Always operate your PWC at a safe speed to avoid getting thrown off into the water.
  4. Each PWC is required to carry a fire extinguisher. Make sure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and ready for use.
  5. Take a boating safety class. In Missouri, PWC operators are required to take and pass a boater safety course. 
  6. Explore the Sea Tow Foundation’s website for more boating safety tips.

Gail Kulp is the executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation.