Boating is one of the most enjoyable summer pastimes. There's nothing quite like hitting the open water and cutting through the waves, whether you're alone or with your friends and family.
But getting on the water without knowing basic boating safety is dangerous for everyone involved. Here are six key boating safety tips to keep you safe on the water.
1. Always Check the Weather First
Before ever stepping foot on your boat, check the weather report.
The weather can be unpredictable. It might look like a beautiful, sunny day out, but that can all change in a split second. The last thing you want is to be stuck out on the open water in a thunderstorm.
Heavy rain can fill your boat with water, causing it to capsize. Lightning can strike your boat, threatening severe damage and lost lives.
Even too much wind makes boating risky depending on the type of boat you've got. It could lead to trouble if you need to travel against the wind. Wind could even flip your boat if it's strong enough!
Check the weather, then double-check it on another weather network or app. You can never be too safe.
2. Pack Proper Safety Gear
It's always a good idea to pack a safety kit with all the essentials. This includes, but is not limited to:
- First aid kit (in case of injury)
- Whistle (to alert safety crews/other boaters)
- Flashlight (in case it gets dark)
- Duct tape (for quick fixes/patching)
- Rope (to tie down the boat/get towed)
- Fire extinguisher (in case of fire)
- Life jackets (for safety)
- Bucket (to bail out a boat)
- Emergency rations (water, packaged food)
These boat tools are crucial in an emergency situation. They'll help you survive and get the attention of nearby boaters or rescue teams.
The life jackets are among the most important. You need to make sure they're US Coast Guard-approved by law, and that everyone on the boat has access to one. In some states, you may have to wear your life jacket at all times while on the boat.
3. Don't Drink & Boat
You hear a lot of talk about the dangers of drinking and driving, but what about drinking and boating?
As you may have guessed, drinking and operating a boat is a big no-no. Not only is it illegal, but it's extremely dangerous. It affects not only your judgment, but your reaction times, coordination, balance, and vision.
If you're caught drinking and operating a boat, you will be fined and likely lose your boating license. You may even end up taking a trip to jail. It's okay if others on the boat have a drink, but don't let temptation get the best of you.
It could mean serious danger for you and everyone in the boat.
4. Stay Alert, Use Common Sense
Driving and operating a boat is more similar than you may think.
Just like how there are rules of the road, there are rules of the water. The most important of these is to use common sense at all times. Don't do anything you deem dangerous or risky, and don't do anything that might harm your passengers or yourself.
Stay alert, stay focused, and pay attention to your surroundings. You never know when another boat might come speeding toward you, forcing you to make a sudden move. Without your full attention, an incident that could simply be avoided can become a serious situation.
Don't drive your boat too fast, especially around other boaters. Respect everyone else on the water overall. The more you use your common sense, the better off everyone will be.
5. Don't Overload the Boat
When it comes to boating, the more the merrier, right?
Well, that's not always the case. Not every boat can hold the same number of people. Typically, the smaller the boat the fewer people that should be on it.
Every boat has a weight capacity. Before setting sail, look up the capacity of your boat. You can probably find it in the operations manual, or by Googling if you need to.
Overloading your boat with too many passengers or too much equipment creates an imbalance. This makes it much harder and slower to pilot and can lead to dragging. It could also make the boat tip over if you hit heavy waves or bad weather.
If you want to party on your boat, get a boat equipped for partying. Otherwise, keep the weight to a minimum when you can.
6. Dock It Right
Every boater knows how much of a hassle docking can be.
There are a lot of factors that go into properly docking a boat. From the wind to the waves and the dock size itself, you need to consider everything. The last thing you want to do is hit the dock or another boat and damage your vessel.
Always approach a dock or shore slowly, and keep your bumpers out. Line it up carefully and precisely, and reduce speed as you near. Consider the direction of the wind and use it to your advantage if able.
Have a second person tie the boat down if able. This allows the driver to focus completely on steering.
Failing to properly dock your boat can result in damage to your boat, the dock, or another person's boat. The best way to avoid this is to take it slow and smart.
The Importance of Boating Safety
Boating safety is the most important thing to know before hitting the open water. Follow the tips above to ensure you and everyone on your boat remain safe in any situation.
Now that you know how to be safe on the water, it's time to get a boat. Contact us today and we'll help you find a boat you'll love.