JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.– National Safe Boating Week is May 21st through May 27th and officials in Missouri are urging people to follow the law and safety protocols when they are out on the water. nsbw 2

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Incident Report, there have been nine boating/drowning fatalities in Missouri this year. In 2014, nearly 30 people in the state died of accidental drowning or submersion.

Sergeant Al Bavarska with the Marine Safety Law Enforcement Division says most people who drown in a boating or personal watercraft accident would be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket.

“Most of the boaters comply with the law, but their life jackets are either stored, inaccessible and they can’t be reached. If they’re wearing their jacket, that would avoid most fatalities on the water.”

One life jacket is required for each person on a watercraft, and kids younger than age six must be wearing one at all times. On a personal watercraft or jet ski, a life jacket is required for those riding or being towed. National Safe Boating Week runs through Friday.

Many boating accidents involve the use of alcohol. Bavarska notes it’s illegal for anyone to operate a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“One bottle of beer or can of beer or prescription drugs can affect your operation abilities when you’re navigating on the water, compounded with the sun beating on you, or the cold weather or just a rough sea.”

Before heading out on the water for the season, he encourages boaters to ensure the equipment on their vessel is operating correctly, including the battery, fire extinguisher and navigational lights.