Airplane pilots begin every flight by going over a checklist on the ground. Boaters should learn a similar procedure.
Early in the warm weather season, some boaters may rush to get on the water and overlook small details that could cause trouble. Beginning boaters, too, need to check over these details that may not be familiar to them, said Sgt. Stephanie Moudy, boating law administrator with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
"Safe and enjoyable boating is mostly common sense," Moudy said. A basic checklist for boaters before leaving home follows:
* Boat registration: Is the boat registered and is the registration current? Is the trailer license current?
* Gasoline: If the gas in the boat tank has been there since last season, replace it with fresh fuel. Boaters don't want to get on a lake and have moisture in the fuel stop the engine.
* Life jackets: Is there one in the boat for every person who will be aboard?
* Steering cable: Turn the boat steering wheel and make sure the motor turns with it.
* Lights: Make sure all the lights on the boat are working. Boaters may be planning a daylight-only outing, but something could delay them until nightfall. Check the trailer's lights also.
* Fire extinguisher: Have one aboard and make sure it is charged.
* Check the weather: If a storm is forecast, boaters may want to change plans.
* Cell phone: Take one if at all possible.
* Supplies: In addition to fishing gear or swim items, take along drinking water, sunscreen, insect repellent and a first aid kit.