Boating Safety 101 – Tips to Use When You Get On the Water

Getting out on the water on a beautiful summer day is a great way to enjoy yourself. Boating has been a popular recreational activity for years, for plenty of good reasons! But, if you’re new to boating, or need a few refreshers on how to be safe while you’re on the water, there are plenty of helpful tips you can keep in mind. Let’s take a look at a few of those boating safety tips that you can take with you next time you’re ready to set sail. They’ll help to keep your boat in top shape, and make sure that you, and anyone who steps aboard will always be safe while you’re floating around.

1. Have a Departure Routine

Any good ‘captain’ knows that you should prepare some kind of checklist to use each and every time you set sail. This list should cover every possible safety precaution, checking boat maintenance, etc. You wouldn’t want to get out on the water, only to have something go wrong with the mechanics of the boat, and after all, safety is the number one priority when you’re out on the water. Having a list in hand and actually being able to check off item after item can give you peace of mind, and ensure that you haven’t missed any important safety check.

2. Don’t Boat Alone

Whenever you go out on the water, it’s a good idea to have at least one other person with you who knows, at the very least, the basics of boating. This means, they know the basic controls of the boat, as well as the proper safety requirements. Of course, it’s never ‘fun’ to think about something happening that might incapacitate the driver in some way, but anything from sea-sickness to an injury could make it difficult for you to be in control. So, always be sure you have someone with you who really knows what they’re doing.

3. Lifejackets

Lifejackets may seem obvious, but unfortunately, far too many boats go out on the water without the proper number of lifejackets on board. It’s actually one of the top causes of drowning when boating accidents occur. Every single person on board should have a life jacket available to them that fits them snugly. One or two jackets simply aren’t enough if you’ve got several people on board. They are more than just a precaution – they really can save lives.

4. Know Your Boating

It never hurts to take a safety course in boating. Even if you know how to drive a boat, and know all of the controls, safety procedures should always be the top priority. Some states actually require you to have specific safety certifications in order to take a boat out on the water. But, even if your state isn’t one of them, why not make things more secure for yourself, and the people you care about when you take them out on the boat? The more educated you are about how to be safe, the better.

5. Be Responsible on the Boat

Many boating accidents and injuries occur year after year because people weren’t practicing safe actions on the boat itself. What does this mean, exactly? Well, in simpler terms, it usually means they were ‘goofing off,’ though that may not always come across clearly. When you’re on a boat of any size, it’s important to follow safety procedures as closely as possible – they are there for a reason, after all.

One of the biggest problems people can have on boats is when it comes to drinking. Alcohol has become a huge issue in the boating industry, causing so many accidents each year, whether that means crashes, or people getting injured. Just as you wouldn’t drink and drive, you shouldn’t allow alcohol on your boat – you’re risking an injury for someone who could be close to you, and there could be a lot of liability behind that.

6. Float Plans

A float plan is essentially the details of each trip, every time you take your boat out on the water. Your float plan should be given to a friend or family member, or even your local marina. It should include where you plan to go, how long you plan to be on the water, and the make and model of your boat. It should also include how many people will be with you, as well as personal information like your name, contact information, etc. Of course, no one ever expects anything to go wrong while they’re out on the water, but a float plan is a great piece of ‘insurance’ to make sure someone knows where you are, and what to look for should anything happen.

If you do run into some kind of accident, and aren’t back on land when you should be, the person who has your float plan can start putting a plan in motion to find out what happened, and if you’re in trouble, there is a greater chance you’ll be rescued/helped quickly.

Safe Boating is Fun Boating

As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do (small things, at that) to make your boating experience safe, every single time. Not only will this make you feel better about taking people you care about on the water, but you’ll feel more confident in your own boating skills. Having a boat, and being able to go out on the water should be a fun experience every time, but that fun starts with the right safety procedures in place. By taking just a little extra time to follow these procedures, you’ll make the most of each and every boating trip, and everyone on your vessel will feel safe and comfortable under your leadership.

Featured Image by Peter Clark, CC

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