Many Americans love to spend time on a boat with friends and family. But staying safe should be the priority. If you’re about to hit the water, be sure to remember to follow basic boating safety as highlighted below.
Have a Boat Safety Kit
You never know when an emergency will happen on the water, so the smart boater is ready for any situation. A boat safety kit should be on board, no matter how large or small it is. Essential items include:
- Flashlight: If you run out of gas or the engine stalls in the dark, you’ll be thankful you have a flashlight and plenty of batteries.
- Duct tape: Boat leaks? Duct tape can do almost anything, including temporarily keep the water out.
- First aid kit: You can pick up a basic first aid kit at any drug store.
- Whistle: An essential to attract attention in an emergency.
- Bucket: Even if you don’t leak, you should have a bucket if water enters the boat another way.
- Ropes: Vital to pull someone out who fell overboard.
- Mirror: To signal for help.
- Fire extinguisher: Fire on a boat can be fatal. Everyone on board should know where it is and how to use it.
- Life jackets: Every person on board should have a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Always Have Life Jackets
Drowning causes most boating fatalities. Those tragedies often happen because people don’t wear life jackets or there aren’t enough onboard.
Note that life jackets aren’t just to keep you above water. They are made to turn you face up if you are unconscious, and they also can prevent hypothermia.
Federal law requires you to have Coast Guard-approved life jackets on board for all passengers. And many states require that children have them on at all times.
Check The Weather
Most people hit the water when it’s warm and sunny, but the weather can turn south fast. Be sure to check the forecast before you go boating. Once you are out there, note varying wind gusts and choppy water – a storm could be on the way.
Don’t Overload The Boat
It’s vital to follow the capacity restrictions for your boat. Overloading it with people or equipment can unbalance it. The boat also will sit lower in the water and is more likely to take on water and capsize.
Be Sure To Anchor Properly
Having a good anchor is excellent, but there’s more to it. To prevent the wind from dragging your craft, you could need two anchors at the front. To stop the tide from lifting the anchor, you could need to drop it in water that is 20 or 30 feet deep.
Follow Safe Docking Procedures
Docking can be a challenge, depending on the weather, current, and your boat. As you get closer to the dock, be sure your dock bumpers are available to avoid damage. Cut your speed, and be sure your docking lines are secure.
If the wind is blowing towards the dock, bring your boat approximately two feet from the dock. The wind will pull it in. Then, tie it with your docking lines. If the wind is blowing away from the dock, approach at a 20 or 30-degree angle to make up for the wind. Then tie your bowline.
Take A Class On Boating Safety
Did you know that up to 70% of boat accidents are due to operator error? Before you enjoy the water, be sure that you know essential boating rules and your responsibilities. There are many online classes available, and the Boat US Foundation has free online boating classes that are made for each state.
Follow these safety guidelines, and you’re sure to be safe as you have fun on the water.
I’m a single mother of 2 living in Utah writing about startups, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and health. I also write for Inc, Score, Manta, and Newsblaze