Safety First When Boating
Boating is a rewarding hobby for any one, but without keeping the proper safety in mind, you can set yourself up for a disaster: always remember safety first. Whenever you head out on your boat, keeping everyone that is onboard safe should be your first priority. There are several rules to keep in mind to help protect your friends and family when on your boat.
First, make sure that you have the proper safety equipment on the boat, and check it every time you go out. The most important piece of safety equipment you need to have available is a life jacket. The boat should be equipped with a life jacket to fit every passenger. Do not take this lightly, because the life of someone you love could rest on having properly fitting life jackets available. If you have children, check the life jackets to make sure that they still fit and the child has not outgrown the vest.
Anytime you have a child on your boat who is younger than six years old, that child must wear a life jacket! Even if they do not intend to get into the water, they must be protected. It is a good idea to put a life jacket on anyone who does not know how to swim, but it is the law that you have one on small children, because they can lose their balance easily and tumble overboard.
When you take your boat on the water it is important to make safety first; always tell someone on shore where you are going to be. Do not assume that if something happens there will be someone to rescue you and your family. Give someone on land a time to expect you back, and a number to call if you are not back in time. Keep in mind that the majority of boating accidents do not occur on the open sea, but rather on local lakes. This is due to the fact that people assume they will be safe on a smaller body of water, and do not tell others where they are going to be.
Make sure your boat is equipped with a throw bag or some other type of line to assist a drowning person. Many boating related deaths occur because a non-swimmer falls into the water and is not rescued in time. Avoid jumping into the water after someone, as a drowning person quickly becomes incoherent. It is better to throw them a line and tow them back to the boat then to risk a second person’s life.
Avoid consuming much alcohol when on your boat. While it is fun to drink while boating, remember that even a little alcohol affects your sense of balance, making it difficult to walk straight and keep your footing. Alcohol consumption can also affect your vision.
Be sure your boat is equipped with a radio, and should you run into a problem, use the “Mayday” call. If your situation is not an emergency, you can simply call the Coast Guard on your radio. If you are stranded without one, try to signal a passing boat to call the Coast Guard. Make sure your boat has a package of working flares you can use to signal passing boats.
If your boat should capsize, you must find something to hang onto to keep you from going underwater. Even the most experienced swimmer will only be able to stay above water for a short time without a floatation device. If you cannot reach your life jacket, find something else to float on. If you are traveling with a cooler, this is a good option to use as a floatation device. Provided they do not fill with water, coolers will float. A larger cooler can become a floatation device for several people.
Keep close tabs on your location when on the water. If you have navigation equipment, check it frequently, and keep your location in mind. This will ensure that you will be found should you run into trouble. If you do not know where you are, your rescuers will have trouble getting help to you and the people in your party.