Summer is here and for many families that means fun times on the water. No matter how much experience you have boating, it’s always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before leaving the dock. Here are 10 boating safety tips to help everyone enjoy a relaxing, safe boating experience.
1. Check the Weather
Always check the weather conditions before you leave and periodically check to make sure there aren’t any weather changes you should know about. If you notice dark clouds, volatile and rough-changing wind or sudden drops in temperature, best to play it safe and head for dry land.
2. Review and Follow the Safe Boating Checklist
The National Safe Boating Council and The American Association of Poison Control Centers have put together a Safe Boating Checklist that will help you ensure you and your friends and family will stay safe. Take the time to review this checklist and make sure everything is in order before departure.
3. Practice Common Sense
So many times accidents and injuries could have been prevented if people would have used their common sense. This means operating the boat at a safe speed, watching out for other boaters, respecting buoys and other safe boating zones, all of which are there to protect you and other boaters enjoying the waterways.
4. Designate an Assistant Skipper
It’s really important to make sure at least two people on board know how to maneuver the boat and understands basic boating safety. If the captain is injured or incapacitated in some way, there needs to be someone else on board who can take charge and ensure the boat and all passengers arrive safely to shore.
5. Make an Emergency Float Plan
A nautical emergency plan is commonly referred to as a “float plan.” Make sure you have a float plan and that someone (like a family member or marina staff person) is aware of your float plan. A float plan consists of the following information:
· name, address and phone number of the captain
· name and phone number of all passengers
· boat type and registration information
· trip itinerary
· types of communication and signal equipment on board, i.e. Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
6. Require All Passengers to Wear a Life Jacket
Not wearing a life jacket is the number one cause of drowning while boating. Make sure everyone on board is fitted properly and wears their life jacket at all times.
7. Leave Alcohol at Home
Did you know that almost half of all boating accidents involve alcohol? Operating a boat while intoxicated is a federal offense and criminal penalties will be enforced. Some states will suspend your boating license or privilege; your boat could even be seized and sold at auction. With such stringent penalties and the high accident rate that can be attributed to alcohol, why take the risk?
8. Learn to Swim
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important that you know how to swim in the case of an accident. There are lots of places to take swimming lessons in most communities; check with your local YMCA or American Red Cross agency.
9. Take a Boating Course
New York State requires that you pass an approved boating education course in order to operate a motorized vehicle on the water. Approved courses are offered by NYS Parks, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadron. Find a boating safety course near you.
10. Get Your Boat Checked
The U.S. Coast Guard offers a free vessel safety check. These courtesy boat exams will review the safety equipment on board and make sure you are in compliance with federal and state regulations. They will also offer helpful boating safety tips based on your boat. Virtual safety checks are available as well.
The insurance professionals at Tanner Insurance Agency, Inc. have protected New York residents from boating accidents since 1984. We have offices in Madison, Norwich and Oneida, NY. We know our area and the waters in it. Learn more about how we can give you peace of mind and save you money on your boating insurance. Contact us here.