There are thousands of recreational boating accidents each summer. Causes include driving too fast for conditions, drugs or alcohol, disregard for boating regulations, carelessness, and inexperience. To prevent boating accidents, we offer these safety suggestions:
How to Protect Your Boat
- Check weather forecasts before heading out, if things could turn stormy think twice.
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you think you’ll be back.
- Take some time to carefully check your engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, exhaust-system, pump, and double check for any leaks when you put your boat into the water and before you leave shore.
- Carry one or more fire extinguishers, and make sure they are appropriate for the size and type of your boat. Make sure they are in good condition each season and keep them in a place where they can quickly be reached in an emergency.
- Make sure you have the required navigation lights, and a whistle, horn or bell.
- Additional safety items like paddles or oars, a first-aid kit, fresh water, a tool kit, spare parts, flashlight, flares, GPS, beacon, and a radio are highly recommended. Being prepared for any potential emergency can save lives.
- Every person on board the boat should wear a life-jacket.
- Learn marine traffic laws, aka the “Rules-of-the-Road.” and distress signals. Be a conscientious and responsible captain.
- Watch carefully for other swimmers, boats, animals, floating debris and shallow waters.
- Don’t overload your boat and be sure to distribute weight evenly. Don’t stand up or shift your weight suddenly in a small boat. Don’t allow your passengers to ride on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
- Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is not only dangerous, it is illegal.
Free advice and boating-safety courses are available from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can also ask for a Courtesy Marine Examination (CME) on your boat, which includes checking electrical and safety equipment and fuel hoses.
Have a fun and safe summer!