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Teen Kids News (Episode 1049)

5 minutes

It can happen on vacation, at camp, or at a lake. You get a chance to take a boat out on the water. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

(male reporter) Boats come in many shapes and sizes, yet they all have one thing in common-- they can turn from being fun to being dangerous. Everyone wants to get on a boat, but if something bad happens, it might not be so fun.

(reporter) In fact, boating accidents are way too common. Last year, there were more than 4,000 of them, and many of those involved teens. That's why the coast guard runs safety courses like this one. Think of it as driver's ed for boaters. You don't just hop on and go. You need to know what the rules of the road are, what different buoys would mean. It teaches you everything you'd need to know.

(reporter) For example, the life jacket. Instructors teach the importance of always wearing one. That starts with the right way to put it on.

(woman) How do you know your life jacket is snug? I don't know. Take the shoulder straps and lift up. If it goes over your head, it's too loose.

(reporter) Even if you know how to swim, life jackets are necessary. Seventy percent of boating fatalities were due to drowning. Of that, 84% of those people were not wearing life jackets. That's a lot of lives that could have been saved. A life jacket is important. It doesn't matter how good a swimmer you are. If you've fallen over the boat and hit your head, that's it. A life jacket could save you. People don't float. Life jackets do. When you're wearing a life jacket, it lets you float. Now, let's hear you with the whistles.

[all whistling]

(reporter) But there's more to boat safety than life jackets. You need to know... How to properly use things like whistles, horns, and things like that, so you're able to notify people if something happens.

(reporter) And depending on the type of watercraft, you may also need a fire extinguisher, flares... Open it up. Load the cartridge. Close it. Make sure you don't point it at anyone. Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire. You go over and fire.

(reporter) ...and other safety equipment.

[honks]

Here are more safety tips from the American Boating Association... That means really understand how to operate it. Learn the rules of the road. Even though you're on water, it's much like driving a car. Know who has the right of way and who must yield. And before setting out, always check the weather forecast for the entire day ahead. Some states require you to take a course before operating certain kinds of boats. Even if it's not the law, experts encourage every boater to take a class on safety. It can only help you when you're on the water. It helps you become a better person on the water. Because people are really excited to use boats, but they're not sure of what to do in a dangerous situation. If you got in a situation that's dangerous, then you might get hurt yourself or endanger others.

(reporter) Boating safety classes are available all around the country through various organizations. To find one near you, there are links on our website. It doesn't have to be a big boat to get you into big trouble. Accidents can occur anywhere-- on a little kayak in the bay, in your backyard. It doesn't really matter where you are. You can get into an accident anywhere. Once you know the basics, you can set a course for fun.

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In this segment, the topic is the importance of taking boating safety classes. Organizations around the country offer courses on boating safety, including the Coast Guard. During these courses, teens learn the proper way to wear a life jacket, how to use whistles and horns, and how to use a flare or fire extinguisher in case of emergency. Part of the "Teen Kids News" series.

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