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Boating safety urged on busy July 4 weekend

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Heather Hintze - 9:26 PM July 3, 2014

It’s easy to forget from one summer to another everything you need to know about keeping safe on the water.

It’s what David Brubaker is an expert at. The volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary member comes with his checklist. He says this is the best possible way to learn about potential violations of state and federal requirements.

“It’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes to look at what you’re preparing for,” Brubaker said.

But more importantly, this once-over can keep your boat and passengers out of harm’s way before you even leave the docks.

“Every year it seems that [at] some of the fuel docks we have an explosion. Sparks get involved, fumes are there, and bang, people get hurt,” Brubaker said.

Another requirement for anyone under 18 is a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

If you don’t have one for your kids, check out more than 700 loaner stations set up throughout the state.

“Cold water doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of how strong of a swimmer you are or how long you’ve been boating in Alaska,” said Kelly Toth, education specialist with the state’s Office of Boating Safety.

The state encourages everyone on the water to file a float plan. Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back and take a emergency communication or signaling device with you.

One thing to make sure you don’t do is operate a boat under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The Coast Guard urges people to say something if they see someone driving impaired.

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