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Boating safety courses have benefits

Navigating a boat is much like driving a car. Safety lessons and courses can make the captain of the vessel a better sailor.

Handling a boat properly and safely is something that comes with practice. Safety courses can make boating more enjoyable for all involved.

Many organizations offer boating courses. Private companies, state agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard may have a safety course a boater can join. These courses will cover a variety of aspects on general boating and safety procedures. They often involve hours of classroom instruction. There may be a test at the end of the course and a certificate of completion issued. Some courses may be given right on a boat, offering first-hand experience. Browsing the course description can yield information as to which type of course is being offered.

An advantage to taking a boating safety course is that some insurance companies, much like they do with drivers who complete defensive driving courses, will offer a discount to boaters who successfully complete a recognized course in boating safety.

One of the main advantages to completing a boating safety course is that it can help a person save lives. Research indicates that in Florida alone 85 percent of boating fatalities involve boaters who have not taken a boating safety course. Some states now mandate individuals complete a safety course before they are allowed to operate a water vessel.

Boating safety courses will cover a host of topics, including basis boat operation.

Other topics include:

* seamanship

* navigation

* general safety

* personal flotation devices

* first aid and emergency protocol

* rules of the open water

* water survival techniques

* weather safety

* responsible boating

It's important to find a reputable class for boating safety. One backed by the USCG can offer the up-to-date information boaters may need. Visit the USCG online at www.uscg.mil to find a listing of recommended courses.

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