One of the best parts of the summertime is having an excuse to take your boat out on the water with your family and friends. Maybe this is your first summer with a schooner. Maybe you’ve been taking a pontoon out for years. Either way, the beginning of summer is a great time to refresh your memory on boating best practices. Use these tips to stay safe (and afloat!) this summer.
Two Words: Life Jackets. This should be an obvious tip, but it’s definitely one that’s worth repeating. Ninety percent of drowning accidents involve swimmers who are not wearing life jackets. Keep them on board, and wear them at all times. Even if you think you’re in a shallow area or you are only taking a quick dip, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember: it only takes 1 minute for an adult to drown.
Take Swimming Lessons. Life jackets are great, but you also want to make sure each member of your boating party knows how to swim. Contact the Red Cross, YMCA, or your local community college to see if they offer swimming lessons for all ages.
Don’t Drink and Boat. You probably know the serious statistics behind DUI, but have you heard of BUI? That’s right. Boating under the influence is also serious.
How serious? It causes 17% of all recreational boating fatalities. Sure, it’s not illegal to drink on a boat, but you can be cited for having a BAC of .08 or higher while operating a boat. Take drinking and boating as seriously as you would drinking and driving: assign a designated captain, bring snacks, and pull over if you’ve had too much to drink onboard.
Bring a Radio. The open water gives us a time to disconnect from our busy lives and reconnect with nature. The lack of cell phone reception on your boat is wonderful for peace and quiet, but not great in emergencies. Prevent any communication failures by buying a marine radio and keeping it onboard.
Lay Off the Heavy Stuff. Your boat can only hold so much weight to ensure a smooth trip. Make sure you know the maximum capacity your boat can carry, and don’t test its limits.
Listen to Mother Nature. You’re excited to get out on your boat, kick back, and catch a few fish. You’ve been waiting for this trip for weeks… and you start to see dark clouds rolling in.
What do you do? Unfortunately, you should probably pack your bags and head home. If a storm is approaching, it’s best not to stay out on the water.
If you get caught in a storm, the best place to be is crouched down in the middle of the boat as low as you can get. Try your best to avoid this situation by heading to shore as soon as you see crummy weather approaching.
Take a Course in Boating Safety. Dive deeper into the world of boating safety by taking a course. You may be able to find a good class online, or at your local community college.
Unfortunately, boating accidents may still occur even after properly planning and packing your boat safely. If you or a loved one are injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of another, call a Florida personal injury lawyer today.