Are you a boat owner? Are you getting ready to set sail for the summer?
Boating is a wonderful way to relieve stress while spending time with friends and family. Just being on the water can be relaxing by itself. Add in some fun with jet skiing, tubing, knee boarding or wake boarding, and you have the formula for a perfect day or weekend at the lake.
Of course, boating isn’t all just smooth sailing. As with any recreational activity, it’s critical to exercise proper safety procedures during boating season so that you don’t put anyone in harm’s way.
Here’s everything you need to know…
1. Life Jackets
The law requires that your boat is equipped with one life jacket for each person on board. Children under the age of thirteen are required to wear a coast guard-approved life jacket at all times in some states.
There are many different types of life jackets on the market. Some are recommended for fishing and racing, and others work well for boating alone. Some life jackets are designed for stormy conditions, and even to prevent hypothermia. Others will turn a person face-up. Keep in mind that some of these extra features may require additional maintenance, which means they could be more expensive.
It’s important to talk to your local recreational supply store expert about the best type of life jacket for your expeditions. Try them on inn the store to make sure they’re the right size and fit. Also, be sure you’re complying with any and all local regulations before you head out onto the water.
2. Check Your Boat
Before setting sail, open all of your boat’s hatches and check for strange fumes. Boat sources that could produce gas include engines, generators, cooking ranges, and space heaters.
Proper installation and maintenance of engines will help you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, avoid blocking exhaust outlets. Make sure children aren’t swimming or playing in areas where engines vent their exhaust.
3. Be Prepared For Emergencies
Keeping the right supplies for emergencies on board will help you and your guests feel safe. A basic first-aid kit will include antibiotic ointments, aspirin, cold compresses, and a blanket. These items will help treat injuries that might occur until you get back to shore.
It’s also important to have ropes for pulling someone back into the boat if they happen to fall overboard. You’ll also want a flashlight in case you run out of fuel, and a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire. A bucket is also important to have on board in case your boat takes on water.
4. Take Swimming Lessons
Most people think of swimming lessons as being for kids. Adults, however, can really benefit from taking them. If you can’t swim, think about taking a few lessons before you get on a boat.
A basic Red Cross class can teach you about strokes, endurance, and keeping others safe in the water. And it’s a skill you can always use for fitness, even if you don’t need it on a boating expedition. CPR is always a good class to take as well.
5. Get Boat Insurance
While boat insurance might not be required in your state, it’s still a good idea to have, and for many reasons. In today’s litigious society, even friends could sue you if they become injured while riding as a passenger on your boat.
If you have an insurance policy, your company can appoint an attorney to represent you. They will also let you know which damages you owe up to liability coverage.
Insurance can also help you recover your losses in the event of an accident, fire, or even vandalism. Do a little research to find out which type of policy is standard or recommended for the type of boat you own.
6. Don’t Drink and Boat
There are laws and penalties for boating under the influence (BUI). It’s smart to save your drinking for when you’re a full-time passenger rather than being behind the wheel.
Boating and drinking accounted for 633 fatalities nationwide in 2018. Even if you feel that you aren’t drinking heavily, doing so opens yourself up to accusations of irresponsible operation of a boat. You could also face fines, jail time, and loss of operating privileges for your watercraft.
The open sea presents additional distractions to boat operators, including waves, engine noise, and spray. These could increase your level of impairment and render you even more likely to make poor judgments.
Once you return safely to shore, feel free to pop open your favorite alcoholic beverage and enjoy. That is, as long as you’re not driving a vehicle home!
7. Boat Propeller Safety
Boat propellers can cause serious or even fatal damages to you or your passengers. Take all necessary precautions to avoid a potential accident or disaster.
Before you start your engine, make sure you can see all of your passengers. Keep a close eye on children who are on board, making sure that they are not playing in areas of the boat where they could go near the propellers. Also, don’t allow anyone to enter or exit the boat near the propeller areas when your engine is turned on.
Your passengers should know where your propellers are located so they can exercise their own good judgment. Make sure to turn off your engine if you approach anyone in the water. Keep your boat away from swimming zones, and don’t go close to any water skiers or jet skiers.
A propeller guard can also help keep you and your passengers safe. Check with your manufacturer about what is appropriate for your type of boat.
Getting Set for Boating Season
Boating season promises sun, fun, and adventure. If, however, you aren’t properly prepared, it could also bring with it a fair amount of anxiety. Taking the proper safety precautions will allow you to enjoy your watercraft and offer you the security that comes with being prepared for emergencies.
For more local legal advice, contact us today.