ROCK ISLAND, Illinois--Bob Ward's love for the water goes way down deep.
"I just love the water. I was in the Navy during Vietnam, and it's addicting," says Ward.
After boating for decades, Ward knows the true value of being prepared for any incident that could happen on the river. That's why he gets his boat checked every year under US Coast Guard regulations.
It's a checklist of fifteen requirements that workers say, could be the difference between life or death.
Some of the safety requirements include things like always having your registration and documentation, having life jackets available, testing your visual distress signals, and having functional navigation lights and a fire extinguisher on board.
Checking your boat before setting out could save you from paying a hefty fine once you're out on the water.
Each of the fifteen requirements a boat does not comply with costs the owner of the vessel $100 if it's checked on the water by the DNR. That's why it's important to check for safety requirements beforehand.
And it's especially important this time of year when people take out their boats for the first time that people often forget.
"This time of year, no fire extinguisher. It went home for the summer, didn't get put back on the boat," says US Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs officer Jack Tumbleson.
But after that free check is complete, Ward can prepare for the big day when he's ready to hit the water with some extra peace of mind.
"They're not here to fine and make money for the state. They're here to make sure you and your family have a wonderful day out on the water," says Ward.
For a full list of vessel safety requirements and recommendations, click here.