If you're like many people here in West Virginia, one of the best ways to cool off on a warm summer day is to head out on a boat. But there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure you and all your friends stay safe this boating season.
And you can start preparing before you even set foot on a boat. Whether or not you plan on swimming, experts say to put on a life jacket before you're on the water. It's a precaution that can make a big difference. Staff at Stonewall Resort's marina said it may not be mandatory, but they do have specific rules about who needs them.
"Anyone under the age of 12 has to have a life jacket on an all times. My personal opinion, anyone that doesn't know how to swim should wear one at all times. They have to be out on the boat for every passenger on the boat, whether they're wearing it or not, it has to be readily accessible," said the marina's Casper Cutright.
Many good boating days are bright and sunny, but weather can take people by surprise too. Cutright recommended that, when in doubt, people should err on the side of caution and get off the water if they have any concern.
"Just because it looks in the distance doesn't mean it is in the distance. We know for a fact here in the marina that storms can blow in a matter of seconds," Cutright said.
Any hobby that takes place on lakes around the state can be a good time, but Cutright also warned people to understand what might be hiding just under the surface of any body of water. And for man-made lakes like Stonewall, there could be a lot.
"You've got to keep in mind there standing timber, you don't want to hit trees and stuff like that. Pay attention to your no wake zones and buoys. You've got to know the rules and regulations before you come out, not just think you know what you're doing out on the water," said Cutright.
Click here for more safety tips while you're boating this summer.