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SAFE BOATING CLASSES ARE
INEXPENSIVE AND SAVE LIVES

Summer is nearly over but boating season will continue well into the fall. If youíve not yet taken advantage of boating safety classes, itís not too late. With drought conditions causing lower reservoir levels, itís a good idea to take a few minutes to consider the safety of your watercraft and of yourself.

So, what do you need to be safe? When people think of being safe on the water, they often think of equipment required by law such as life jackets and other helpful items like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, sun screen and ample drinking water. Unfortunately, some do not take into account an equally important safety preparation: education.

The numbers tell a tragic story about the results of boating without safety education. In 2011, the year most recent data was available, boat operator inexperience was a factor in 364 accidents, with 43 fatalities and 255 injuries nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. In 78 percent of all U.S. boating deaths that year, the operator had no boating instruction. Texas saw 6.4 deaths for every 100,000 registered boaters, up from 4.7 in 2010 and compared to a national average of 6.2. That puts Texas in third place behind Florida and California in percentage of the nationís boating fatalities, according to the Coast Guard.

Texas law requires anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993 to complete a state-approved boater education course to legally operate a boat with a motor of more than 15 horsepower or a wind-blown vessel longer than 14 feet.

Fortunately, the Brazos River Authority is offering several boater safety courses over the coming months at Possum Kingdom, Granbury and Limestone lakes Ė for little cost.

Each course includes information on operating watercraft in all types of water conditions, from ponds to larger water bodies and from ideal situations to worst case scenarios. Classes are available for ages 12 and older, though children may not be certified until they are 13. Those age 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Participants must provide a social security number and a picture identification card (driverís license, student I.D. or library card accepted).

Lake Granbury

Participation costs $10. Classes begin at 8:30 a.m. and end about 4:30 p.m. Lunch is not provided; however, the class will break between noon and 1:30. All sessions are held at the BRA lake office at 4552 Mambrino Highway. For further information and to register, call Lake Ranger Randy Johnston at (817) 573-1407. Class dates are:

  • June 22
  • July 20
  • Aug. 24

Possum Kingdom Lake

Participation costs $10. Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a one-hour break for lunch. Lunch is not provided. All sessions are held at the BRA lake office at 301 Observation Point Road, Graford. For more information or to register, call (940) 779-2321, extensions 222 or 229. Class dates are:

  • Aug. 3
  • Sept. 14

Lake Limestone

This is the first year the BRA office at Lake Limestone has offered a boater safety class. The class is scheduled for September 21 from 8 a.m. Ė 4 p.m. with one hour for lunch. Cost for the class is $10 and lunch is not provided. Participants are welcome to bring a sack lunch to enjoy lakeside. Class size is limited to 10 participants, so please call soon to reserve your place. Remember, children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please call Lake Ranger Daniel Flores at (903) 529-2141.

So, if you are a new boater without safety education, take advantage of one of these courses. The cost is reasonable and it only takes a few hours. To learn more about boating safety and related Texas laws, please click here.