Most of us follow general safety tips that have been drilled into our heads when it comes to being on the road, but what about out on the water? Boats are just as dangerous of a motor vehicle as a car or truck is, yet the good hearted fun nature of water transportation tends to make people forget that water accidents are no joke.
So let’s go over a few boating safety tips to make sure this summer out cruising stays stress free.
1. Vessel Safety Check
Especially important if your vessel is being taken out offshore, vessel safety checks are conducted by a certified examiner and will result in a VSC decal. The best part of all, it’s FREE! Setting up your appointment is as easy as filling out a request form online.
These examinations include safety regulations that need to be met according to federal and state laws. A few main checks would be on floatation devices, distress signals, fire extinguishers, and navigation lights. At the end of the exam there will be several suggestions made for additional safety measures, which should be carried out for extra protection.
2. Nobody wants a BUI
According to the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division “…use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities.” That’s fatalities, not just accidents.
There’s nothing wrong with having a couple beers on your Sunday off out at the sandbar, but do you have a designated driver? If you decide to boat under the influence it can result in serious consequences in addition to boat damage and injuries. At a minimum a hefty fine will be given, surely ruining the day, and at most there can be serious jail time. Just remember this applies to any boat. Yes that’s right, even a rowboat!
3. Jackets of Life
Lifejackets are the equivalent to seatbelts in a car. You wouldn’t start driving without buckling up, so why run the risk in a boat? Even if you are not boating far off shore, heavily packed areas close to home can result in just as many incidents.
Make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board and know your state regulations for jackets worn by children. If your lifejackets aren’t stowed properly the coast guard can also fine you. They should be in a place where access is easily reached in an emergency situation.
4. The Danger of CO
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent gas that it cannot be smelled, seen, or tasted, and it can prove to be fatal in high doses. Commonly confused with intoxication and seasickness, CO intake is not just possible inside the boat, but out on the deck as well.
Make sure everyone on board is aware of the symptoms/signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Another good idea is to let everyone know where your vessels exhaust outlets are located so accumulation spots can be avoided if signs do arise.
As a boat operator or owner it’s your responsibility to test your CO alarm on a regular basis and listen for exhaust failure, which could be as simple as change in exhaust sound.
If you are still not comfortable being out on the water take a boating safety course. Anyone can take these courses and they will help you become aware of your surroundings on the water even if you are not the boat operator.
5. Know When to Report
Not all boat accidents need to be reported to the authorities, but if one happens to occur, it’s better to know ahead of time what you should do. The following should be reported to the Coast Guard:
– Death of a person
– Person disappears from vessel
– Damage to vessel over $2,000
– Medical treatment beyond first aid
– Boat was totaled
Not only should you be prepared for law enforcement, you should also look into a lawyer who specializes in boating incidents. If you ever find yourself in an incident requiring your insurance company or with a sustained injury, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with Heil-Law.
So have fun and enjoy the water safely this summer!