Up-close look at boating safety checks

In 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard reported more than 650 deaths as a result of boating accidents. On Saturday, officers with the state Department of Natural Resources were out making sure we don't see more this Summer, all part of National Safe Boating Week.

NewsChannel 15 tagged along with state DNR First Sergeant Nate Hutson along the Intracoastal Waterway while he enforced boating rules, all in an effort to keep passengers and drivers safe.

On a typical safety check, Hutson will make sure boaters have four items: A life jacket for each passenger, boat registration, a fire extinguisher and a horn, bell or whistle.

In 2012, there were more than 4,500 boating accidents nationwide, according to a U.S. Coast Guard online report. Hutson said there are two big causes for them. He explained that one of them is alcohol.

"Boating under the influence is a problem in our area and we're out here trying to make sure that everyone's being safe and everybody's not drinking and driving a boat," Hutson said.

The other, he added, is boater inexperience. "Folks will get on boats and like I say, think they can drive just because they've driven a car and they will get involved in an accident."

That explains why DNR officers like Hutson will work not just during boat safety week, but all year long running checks.

"I think it's really important for us to realize that we've got enough of the life vests that are on the boat and have the fire extinguisher. You know we always try to make sure that we know where the kids are going to have their life vests and stuff like that so I think yeah, I think we're definitely going to remember this experience," said Marjan Schoettelkotte. Schoettelkotte was on one of the boats Hutson ran a check for on Saturday.

To see a full list of boat safety tips click here.