Boating is supposed to be fun and relaxing. It’s often a chance for people to get away from the stress of everyday life and enjoy being on the water for a few hours. But unfortunately, boating can go from relaxing to deadly in just moments if you don’t obey some pretty basic rules.
How to Stay Safe on the Water
Each year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles boating accident data and reports it to the public. According to the 2016 report, there were 4,463 boating accidents that involved 701 deaths and 2,903 injuries. The approximate damage was $49 million to property. If you want to avoid becoming part of a statistic, then it’s imperative that you practice boating safety while on the water.
Here are some specific tips to keep you safe:
Don’t Drink and Drive
As is the case with driving any sort of vehicle, drinking and driving is an absolute no-no when it comes to boating. Boating while under the influence is not only a crime, but it increases the odds of a boating fatality by a whopping 34 percent. Everyone wants to have a good time on the water, but save the alcohol until after you dock the boat for the evening.
Have a First Aid Kit on Board
No matter how much you try to prevent injuries from occurring, accidents aren’t 100 percent preventable. That’s why it’s always recommended that you keep a fully stocked first aid kit on board. Your kit should include bandages, basic medical supplies, and any supplies needed to treat sprains and burns. The boat operator should also know how to give CPR in the case of a drowning emergency.
The first aid kit should be a bright color and contain some sort of reflective material on it so that it can be found quickly, even by those who aren’t familiar with the boat. It’s best to store it in a compartment near the driver’s seat.
Keep Your Emergency Radio On
It’s important that you always keep your emergency radio turned on. It doesn’t matter how safe you think the conditions are, the radio is there for a reason. Turning it off for even a few minutes can result in missed information that compromises your safety.
Wear Life Jackets
A lot of people choose not to wear life jackets because they know how to swim, but it’s always wise to wear some sort of floatation device whenever a boat is in motion. There’s always the risk of being thrown from the boat and knocked unconscious, in which case a life jacket could save your life.
It’s worth noting that every state has different laws regarding when, where, and who must wear life jackets. But as a very basic rule of thumb, the Coast Guard requires children under the age of 13 to wear life jackets when a boat is moving.
Obey Speed Laws
Speed laws aren’t something to mess around with – particularly at night or when weather conditions limit your visibility. Always respect the rules of the water and maintain a reasonable speed while factoring in conditions.
Keep the Boat Properly Maintained
Many boating accidents and drownings occur due to boat malfunctions: breaking down, running out of gas, or catching fire. By properly maintaining your boat, and conducting routine checks before going out on the water, you can reduce the risk of any of these incidents.
Have a Little Fun in the Sun
Boating is supposed to be fun and enjoyable for the entire family. But in order to make sure everyone has a good time, safety has to be a priority. Practice these tips this summer and you’ll be fine!