Deputies emphasize importance of free boater safety classes befo - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deputies emphasize importance of free boater safety classes before getting in the water

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The second Benton County Sheriff's Office free Boater's Safety Class is scheduled for May 7th at the Richland Yacht Club down on Columbia Point. You can register by calling (509) 735-6555 or stopping by the sheriff's office. The second Benton County Sheriff's Office free Boater's Safety Class is scheduled for May 7th at the Richland Yacht Club down on Columbia Point. You can register by calling (509) 735-6555 or stopping by the sheriff's office.

COLUMBIA RIVER, WA- According to first responders, life jackets are often times the number one reason why someone survives an accident on the water. That is just one of the many important messages marine patrol deputies want you to know this summer.

"You're having fun, you're having a good time, complacency can come into play. We are all human beings and sometimes things happen," said Deputy JP Benitez with the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Marine patrol is keeping watch on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year. 

"Typically you'll start seeing the mid-sixties and seventies in the Columbia River probably by July 4th," explained Deputy Brian Tungesvik. Although the sun is shining, the water is still 50 degrees and life jackets are no laughing matter, "At least having them handy and having them readily accessible is going to be huge," said Deputy Benitez.
 
You have heard it, you have read the slogan, "These should say Coast Guard approved right on them," but they do save lives Deputy Benitez emphasized.

However, that is not the only knowledge you should have on the water either, "We have day markers all over the Columbia River here, especially this stretch that we are on right here near the bridges. It lets folks know where the channel is, where it is deep, where the best navigable waters are for recreational boaters," Benitez said. 

The right equipment, how to safely operate it and navigate the water is important. Deputies plan to address every concern about recreation on the water through their free boater safety class, "Where are the shallows, what are the portions of the river that can be a hazard to a boater if they aren't familiar with this water," added Benitez.

A couple of hours on your Saturday could be different between fun and an accident that is usually preventable. The second Benton County Sheriff's Office free Boater's Safety Class is scheduled for May 7th at the Richland Yacht Club down on Columbia Point. You can register by calling (509) 735-6555 or stopping by the sheriff's office.

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