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Five Boat Safety Tips for the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and state agencies offer some suggestions for enjoying the area's waterways safely this summer.

Develop a life jacket habit. Did you know more than 60 percent of boating-related deaths in 2011 were caused by drowing?

1. Wear a life jacket. Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once a year.

2. Safety Checklist. Follow the vessel safety checklist to help keep your boat safe. This includes having items like a fire extinguisher and a whistle on board.

3. Know where you are going. Know your vessel, the area, tide times and depths of the water.

4. Operate your vessel safely. Slow down in congested areas and no wake zones. Here's a summary from the FWC of state boating regulations.

5. File a Float Plan. Always let someone on shore know where you are going and for how long, so they can alert the authorities if necessary. If you would like to use it, there's a float plan form attached to this story.  

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