EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The State Parks Division in New Mexico is reminding the public about boating safety with temperatures rising and record amounts of runoff from melting snow.

The State Parks Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources
Department says “record amounts of runoff from melting snow is causing the rise of water” for the state’s lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs.

State Parks and partners across the state remind the community that “dangerous situations can occur if you are swimming or boating and not wearing a life jacket.”

State Parks adds that residents and visitors should take precautions and put safety first, especially on the Rio Grande. One of the first steps would be to take a free boater education course.

Courtesy of Scott Chalmers, NM State Parks Boating Education Coordinator.

State Parks says, “Over the last five years, more than 84% of boating deaths in New Mexico occurred in situations where the boat operator had never taken a safety course. Last year, boating accidents caused tens of thousands of dollars of property damage, serious injuries, and death.”

Boating Safety and Education Program Coordinator Scott Chalmers says “all motorboat, personal watercraft and sailboat operators born on or after January 1, 1989, are required by law to complete a boating safety course to operate on New Mexico waters.”

State Parks provides a free 8-hour boating education class online and in-person class across the state. Anyone taking the course must score an 80 percent on the exam. Once passing the exam students are provided with a “Boater Education Card.”

Once receiving the card, it is valid for life and meets the requirements of other states.

The following safety tips are taught in the Boater Education Course:

  • Life jackets save lives. Make sure everyone wears a properly fitted life jacket and the right kind of life jacket for the activity.
  • Never drink alcohol and go boating. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  • Keep a proper lookout. Operator inattention is one of the top five contributing factors in boating accidents.
  • Maintain a safe speed. A boat going too fast for conditions can easily lose control. Follow all boating safety and navigational rules.
  • Check the weather forecast. The weather and water conditions can change rapidly. Know before you go and be prepared for it to change without notice.
  • File a float plan. Always tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That way, the proper officials can be notified if you don’t return when expected.

To sign up for a boater education course head to www.emnrd.nm.gov. Click on the state parks tab and choose “Boating” in New Mexico.

For more information in Spanish go to Navegando América.