Did you know around 4,000 boating accidents related to recreational boating in the U.S. occur every year? Unfortunately, many boating accidents are avoidable and only require a good, sound safety check beforehand. If you want to stay safe on the water, you need to know what to do.
In preparation for a trip and while on the move, we can help. Read on to learn seven must-know steps for boat safety.
1. Prepare and Wear Life Jackets
Life jackets are the most important item of boat safety equipment. Even the strongest swimmers should use them, as out on the open sea it is very easy to fall into trouble.
In addition, they have a lot of benefits if you are in the water for a long time. Some help prevent hypothermia, while others can turn you face up should you be unconscious. The bright coloration can also help you become visible in the water.
Check your life vests before the trip. Make sure they’re not rusted closed if they have zippers. Make sure each passenger has one that fits snugly.
In the U.S. it is the law that every passenger has a coast guard approved jacket. Children must wear them at all times.
2. Bring a Boat Safety Kit
Boat safety supplies should be kept on board at all times, no matter how big the boat is. They can help you out of emergencies and problematic situations easily.
Some items to include are a properly equipped first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
Some items to include that can help you in the event of an emergency are a mirror, to be used to signal for help by reflecting the light. A whistle is also useful for attracting attention. For fixing problems on the boat, you should equip duct tape, a flashlight, ropes, and a bucket.
3. Always Have Communication
Despite many advances in technology, a VHF radio remains the standard method of communication on the water. While many people are swapping these for mobile phones and tablet-based applications, you can stay safe by having both.
Make sure the mobile phone is equipped for long-range communications. It should be able to give you your GPS location. You can find this easily on both iPhone and Android.
It is important not to rely on device chargers that need the power of the boat to fill up. If the boat electrics go dead along with your phone, then you would be left high and dry.
4. Carry Two Anchors
When anchoring, you should let out around five to seven times the amount of depth in line. This means knowing how deep the water is that you are in, along with a knowledge of the type of bottom you are anchoring to. This will result in less chance of dragging or breaking free.
In addition, your boat will often require two anchors regardless of its size. By dropping them in a V formation at the front of the boat, you will prevent it from drifting.
Make sure you have enough chain or rope on board for both anchors. In fact, you should always carry extra lines and fenders. They can be useful when tying up to other boats or securing yourself at waterfront restaurants.
5. Plan For Every Eventuality
One of the most important boat safety tips is to file a float plan before you set off. This should include the journey locations, boat, amount of people onboard, communications, and contacts. If you don’t return, then people can send help using the information you have supplied.
Regardless of the plan, you should always have a backup in case things go wrong. Work out what you will do if the battery dies or you run out of fuel way in advance. For many, signing up to a professional assistance company gives them peace of mind and ensures safety in an emergency.
6. Know the Local Laws
Each state will have different laws regarding boating and the activities you wish to do. They can vary from rules about safety and regulations, even to what can be fished and where. Licenses, operator rules, and towing restrictions will all come into play.
One good way to learn the local laws and keep safe is to take part in a boat safety course. Not only will you learn valuable information about how to stay safe on the water, but you will also learn about the regulations and practices of boating. For legal matters, it always pays to have the contact details of a highly recommended boating accident lawyer on hand.
7. Check the Boat Before You Head Out
Before heading out, the first safety check you should do is inspect the weather forecast. Even on warm, sunny days, a storm could be brewing over the horizon that you have not anticipated.
Once you have fueled your boat, open all the hatches and checked for the odor of gas or diesel fumes. If you can smell them, do not start the boat. You may have an accumulation of gases in enclosed spaces within the vessel.
Finally, when loading on make sure you do not put too much on the boat. Too many people and too much cargo can result in the craft becoming unbalanced.
A large part of boat safety comes down to experience. You should scale your trip depending on your level of prior knowledge. If you want to do something bigger but are still relatively new to boating, then hire someone with experience to come with you.
If you enjoyed our article, we have many more. From boat maintenance to health and fitness, we are here to keep you safe on all of life’s journeys.