Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com)
It's Memorial Day Eve and after a few weeks extra wait this year, the ice is out so now the boats are, too.
Around the U.S., Memorial Day is considered the official start of the boating season and that's why National Safe Boating Week comes around this time of year as well.
Those who sell safe boating gear welcome the extra attention to safety on the water.
"I think of safe boating week and the Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary and all those people are very important to us because they remind us of what we have to have." said Russ Francisco of Marine General.
The things to have include communications gear, distress signals like flares and life jackets.
Dr. Jim Munger has been a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for 37 years.
He's seen the number of boating accidents go down during those years but says they're still way too high.
"There are anywhere from 800 to 1000 fatalities on the water." said Munger.
Coast Guard stats state that 90 percent of those victims weren't wearing a life jacket.
Current rules require every boater to have a life jacket on board but doesn't force adults to wear them.
Munger feels everyone should play it safe and wear one always.
Children must wear one at all times and size matters.
"Life jackets are not like shoes. You buy them sized to fit. It's sort of a pain because kids grow so fast but you don't want them falling out and you don't want it too small so you need to buy it to fit." said Francisco.
During National Safe Boating Week and beyond, U.S. Power Squadron members and Coast Guard Auxiliarists offer free Vessel Safety Checks to keep boats ship shape.
That checklist can also be found online.
Jim Munger knows through nearly four decades of experience that passing the check makes a difference.
"By going over the safety check requirements, there have been a number of boaters who have been saved from potential catastrophe." said Munger.
In Superior, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.
Vessel Safety Check checklist:
Click here for more information.