Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

KY Afield Outdoors: Safe boating stressed for July 4 holiday

Increased boat traffic on a holiday weekend makes for more congested waterways and leaves less room for error
Click on headline for complete article, photo(s)

By Kevin Kelly
KY Afield Outdoors Magazine, KY Fish & Wildlife

FRANKFORT, KY - With the Fourth of July falling on a Friday this year, Kentucky's lakes and rivers will be teeming with boaters enjoying the long holiday weekend. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources want it to be a fun and safe experience for everyone.

"There's nothing better than a day on the water," said Zac Campbell, the department's boating education coordinator. "It's a great way to spend quality time with your family and friends. But a great day on the water can turn tragic in a matter of seconds.

"Always be prepared with your safety equipment. Have a float plan and make sure you're watching out for everybody on board."

The increased boat traffic on a holiday weekend makes for more congested waterways and leaves less room for error.

Boat operators are advised to pay close attention to navigational rules and to drive cautiously in crowded areas. Scan the water around you, looking for swimmers, tubers, skiers, personal watercraft operators and floating debris.

"Even if you do everything properly, you still have to watch out for the other guy," Campbell said. July was the leading month for boat accidents nationwide last year, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics report.

Operator inattention was the top contributing factor in boating mishaps last year followed by improper lookout, operator inexperience and excessive speed, according to the North American Safe Boating Campaign. Alcohol use was the sixth highest contributing factor in boating accidents across the country last year.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife conservation officers will be out in full force over the holiday weekend to help ensure the safety of those on the water.

Conservation officers will be on the lookout for impaired boaters but also checking that boats are equipped with the required safety equipment.

"Especially life jackets, which are proven to be a vital tool in saving lives on the water," said Maj. Shane Carrier, boating law administrator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Before leaving the ramp, or dock, check that you have the following:

  • Registration numbers and decals properly displayed
  • Registration receipt on board
  • Wearable life jackets for each person on board (children under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket in the open part of a boat that is underway)
  • Throwable flotation device
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Horn or whistle
  • Lights (red, green and 360-degree white lights)
All boats must display the proper navigation lights when underway between sunset and sunrise. The 360-degree white light must be displayed at all times when anchored during this period. It is especially important around congested areas such as marinas or fireworks displays on the water.

"As the operator you're responsible for everybody's safety on board, including your own," Campbell said. "After the fireworks are over, it might be a good idea to stay put a little while and let the boat traffic clear out.

"Sometimes it's really difficult to see which direction boats are moving. Be careful. Be attentive. Don't be a distracted operator. If you have enough people, get a spotter to help you out by being a lookout while you're driving."

Statistics show that people who have taken a boater education course are less likely to be involved in a boating accident, Campbell said.

In Kentucky, children ages 12-17 years old who operate a personal watercraft or boat with a 10-horsepower motor or greater must have a safe boating certificate.

Boater education courses are offered in person around the state at no charge and online for a fee. All in-person courses require online pre-registration. For more information, including course schedules, visit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's website at Boat Kentucky Course.

Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is an avid angler with a passion for muskellunge and stream fishing.

-30- The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, visit our website at

This story was posted on 2014-06-27 04:11:43
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.

Lake Cumberland:Conservation officers step up safety checks

2014-06-27 - Lake Cumberland, KY - Photo by Kevin Kelly, KY Afield Outdoors.
Travis Neal,
conservation officer with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, checks jet skiers on Lake Cumberland. The Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating times of the year. Conservation officers will be patrolling Kentucky waterways during the holiday to provide a safe boating environment. - KEVIN KELLY, KY Afield Outdoors Magazine

Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.


Quick Links to Popular Features content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Use the following link:

Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270-250-2730 Fax: 270-751-0401

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.