Missouri Highway Patrol focuses on boating safety in warm weather

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PERRY — The Missouri State Highway Patrol gave people without a boating license the chance to earn it by taking a boating safety education class Saturday.

Marine Operations Trooper Steve Peterson said anyone born after 1983 is required by law to take an education course in order to drive a boat on their own.

"We try to target junior high age or above," Peterson said. "We also go into the school systems, and we'll offer the course in different school systems too. 

Peterson also said the course can be taken online.

The course provides the basics of boat operation with a focus on safety and handling during emergency situations.

"One of the main things we try to preach or get across is the wearing of life jackets and the use of life jackets, how they're worn, proper size, proper fitting, the different style and different types," Peterson said. "Basically, if you don't wear it, they generally don't work."

Peterson likened the importance of having the life jacket to wearing a seat belt. 

"On the roadways, you have safety restraints in your vehicles. That's going to help in case of some type of accident, the seat belt is going to keep you harnessed in the vehicle or keep you from hitting different objects or objects hitting you when you're in some sort of crash," Peterson said. "On the waterway, a life jacket is similar. A life jacket obviously helps you float, it will float you. If you're rendered unconscious, and you don't have a life jacket on, you don't have very good odds of not sinking."

Hunter Day, who took the course, said he learned a couple new things but knew most of the other information.

"That you always have to have a life jacket, you have to check your boat in the trailer before you go out, and then the rest of it I already knew," Day said. "Most of it was common sense."

However, Day did say boat enthusiasts could learn from the courses.

"They need to take one of these classes for sure because it teaches you a lot," Day said. "It teaches you what you need to do, how you need to react in situations, and then how to be safe on a boat."

The classes took place in Perry, Sunrise Beach and Warsaw. 

Highway Patrol will hold classes all over Missouri throughout the spring, as well as into the summer and even as late as October.