Summer is winding down, and in the warm calm of August it may be tempting to skip out on some common boating safety practices. But now is not the time to get complacent when it comes to safety. Here is a friendly reminder of the things to check off your list so you and your loved ones always stay safe on the water.
First, make sure you have all the gear you need. Take inventory, and if you don’t have every item on this list, it’s time to head to the store. Also, it’s a good idea to check to see if all your current gear is in working order. There’s nothing worse in an emergency than broken supplies.
- Life Jackets – There should be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board. Make sure all your jackets are in good condition as well.
- Flashlight – A flashlight with plenty of fresh batteries is essential in case something goes wrong when you’re boating at night.
- Fire Extinguisher – You definitely do not want to experience an onboard fire, but if you do, you definitely need a fire extinguisher.
- Duct Tape – It’s perhaps the most versatile product in the world and perfect for a quick fix in a tough situation.
- Bucket – Taking on water? A bucket will bail you out.
- First Aid Kit – As with any vehicle, a well-stocked first aid kit is a must-have in case of an accident or medical emergency.
- Mirror – Use a mirror as an alternative way to signal for help.
- Garbage Bags – Keep our waters clean by always having a place to throw away your trash. You can also use them as rain gear.
- Whistle – A whistle take up very little space and comes in handy when you need to call for help.
- Ropes – Tie off to a dock, connect two boats, strap down gear, pull tubes and boards, toss people a line in an emergency—there’s nothing a rope can’t do.
- Radio — Have a radio at the ready and tuned into local emergency channels.
- Cell Phone — Always have a well-charged phone on board, and make sure to know the correct emergency numbers to call.
Be Aware of Weight
It’s important to pay attention to your boat’s weight limit. You want the party to be as large as possible, but boats can only handle so much load before their safety is compromised. Know your boat’s person capacity and never exceed it. And be sure to factor in pets and heavy gear.
Take It Easy at the Dock
Wind, waves and many other factors can make docking tough. Always take it slow and have a passenger on hand to help you dock properly. Remember, there’s no shame in needing a second, third or fourth attempt. And know how to tie off securely. You don’t want to damage the dock, your boat or someone else’s.
Go Back to School
If you’re feeling like a fish out of water on your safety knowledge, take a boating safety course. There are several fast and free courses available online. It’s estimated that 70% of boating accidents are caused by operator error. Do not become another statistic.