The Pulse

Boating Safety Tips

Posted by SFSH on July 25, 2019

Summer is a time for outdoor fun and games both on land and on the water. Boat rides are a summertime favorite of many people.  But how do you know you’re ready for a safe day of boating? Most people know that sunscreen is a must, but there are a few more things you need to know before backing your boat down the ramp. 

Read on for helpful tips on how to stay safe while boating.

Be Prepared

Check the weather before you leave the dock. Just because the day starts out with clear skies doesn’t mean a storm isn’t on its way. Always stock your boat with the proper safety equipment. Having a fire extinguisher, bucket, first-aid kit, and air horn on board better prepares you in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to have a cellphone or radio along to contact help if needed. Plan your route ahead of time and let someone on land know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. 

Lifejackets for Everyone

The law states that every passenger on a boat needs a lifejacket that fits them properly. Laws for who is required to be wearing a lifejacket vary from place to place, but any child or adult that cannot swim should wear a lifejacket for the entirety of their time on the boat. Many places recommend that all children under 12 wear a lifejacket.  U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejackets are sold in a variety of styles, so everyone can choose the best type for their water activities. 

Take a Safety Course

Boating safety courses are available online and in-person and generally only take one day to complete. They are usually inexpensive and are sometimes offered at no cost. Courses help new and experienced boaters be familiar with the rules of the water. Knowing and following boating rules prevents a large number of accidents caused by operator error. 

Get a Vessel Safety Check

Have your boat inspected to make sure it’s ready for the water. There are several options for free safety checks and no penalty if your boat doesn’t pass.

Don’t Drink and Drive

Just like drunk driving, operating a boat while intoxicated is against the law. Alcohol combined with the hot sun can dehydrate a person faster than normal, so be sure to drink plenty of water and always designate a sober driver. Sunstroke is a life-threatening illness that occurs when a body gets overheated. Keep an eye out for symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and muscles weakness.

Use Common Sense

The rules of the water are quite similar to the rules of the road. Stay alert and don’t get too close to buoys or other boaters. Operate your boat at a safe speed and watch for buoys displaying speed limits. Avoid swimming in docking areas with frequent traffic and stay away from the motor when you are in the water. Even when the boat is off, the motor can be dangerous to swimmers. 

Avoid Serious Injuries

On top of being prepared for the boat ride itself, you should be aware of some injuries common to boating. From minor cuts and bruises to serious fractures and head injuries, whatever can happen on a boat will happen - unless you take safety precautions. 

Remember:

  • The floor of a boat is usually hard and slippery, so wear proper shoes and only walk around when it’s safe. 
  • The propellers are sharp, so make sure everyone avoids them while swimming and don’t put the engine in gear until everyone is on board. 
  • Watersports such as skiing and wakeboarding can result in many different injuries. 
  • Cuts and sprains are common during watersports, to help prevent serious injuries let go of the tow rope immediately if you fall. 
  • Always have a spotter watching the participant to communicate with the driver of the boat. 

 

Being prepared makes a day on the water easier, but if an injury or does occur be sure to seek medical attention right away. 

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