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Keep your boat and possessions secured while out on the water

When you head out for an afternoon or day on the boat, you probably take some personal items with you: a mobile phone, binoculars to help you view scenery or wildlife, a portable radio, fishing gear and clothing changes.

While you’re out on the water, keeping an eye on your belongings in the boat isn’t difficult to do. But when you pull in to shore for a break, or to pick up refreshments, do you think to secure and lock up your belongings, or just leave them out in the open for anyone lingering on the dock to see?

An estimated 18 million boats, trailers, equipment, personal items and electronics are stolen each year while their owners engage in recreational boating, according to BoatingBasicsOnline. Here are some boat safety rules to help you keep your belongings where they belong while you’re out on the water – in your boat and in your possession.

* Boat: If your boat is on a trailer while not in use, keep it out of sight and in a locked and secure facility, like a garage or storage shed. Make it difficult for anyone to access the trailer by blocking it with vehicles or heavy equipment that isn’t easy to move. And consider making the trailer unusable by removing a wheel, especially if you’re not using the boat for a longer period of time.

When trailing your boat behind your vehicle, make sure you have a lock on your hitch. It’s also a good idea to purchase an ignition switch lock and temporarily disable your boat in some way like keeping the battery in another location other than the boat when the boat isn’t on the water.

* Personal property: How you protect your personal property depends on how large your boat is. If there is a cabin, make sure you lock it securely when you aren’t using the boat. If you pull into shore for a break, store everything out of sight inside the cabin. For small boat safety, consider installing a storage container as an additional seat attached to the boat so you can lock personal belongings inside and out of sight. Some models have containers under seats already installed with locks that might be able to handle storage of your equipment as well. You can also take all your personal property with you, or leave a person behind to keep an eye on everything.

* Registration: Another safe boating guideline is to keep a copy of your title and registration for the boat and trailer in a secure place at home. That way you’ll have the information handy in case you need to report it to a law enforcement officer.

As you head out this season for some great boating adventures, remember to protect your property like you would your home. Don’t leave anything expensive in plain sight and double check that locks are secured.

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