A day on the water should be fun and carefree. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to prepare for your trip. Nor does it mean throwing caution to the wind. Boat safety tips make for a more enjoyable experience. They can also prevent injuries or worse outcomes if things go wrong. Common sense is your guide to make wise choices.
More often than not, human error is the cause of many boating accidents, whether it’s speeding, running aground, or falling overboard. That’s why it’s essential to create a boat safety checklist to cover your bases. It’ll remind you to care of the things that can make a big difference in your boating experience.
Safety Starts in the Boat.
One of the most valuable boat safety tips involves making sure your vessel is equipped with the proper gear. That means personal floatation devices (PFDs) for every passenger on the boat. Other regulations vary with the state and whether you’re on federal waters. Even if it’s not required, we strongly urge you to make sure every child wears a PFD at all times when in the boat.
Don’t Go in the Water Without a Floatation Device.
Some of the best boat safety tips are the simplest ones. You can start by making it a boat rule that no one goes into the water without some type of floatation device, whether it’s a pool toy, noodle, or air mattress. That applies to even the experienced swimmers in your group. After all, sudden waves happen.
Check the Weather Before You Leave the Shore.
Always make it a point to check the forecast before you go on the water. Storms can wreak havoc on boats with waves that can capsize smaller vessels. Lightning is always dangerous, but especially when you’re in a boat. After all, your craft is the highest object in the center of a lake. You should also check it periodically while boating.
Take a Boater Safety Course
Taking a boater safety course is one of the wisest things you can do. Many organizations offer them for free, so there’s no excuse. You’ll learn things, such as the meaning of buoys, navigation, and rules of the water. Too often, people take to the water, thinking that there aren’t any regs. You’ll likely find it’s the best choice that you have made.
Do a Boat Safety Check Before Going on the Water.
Many of the most common causes of boating accidents are also avoidable. We’re talking about things like making sure you have enough fuel and that your navigation lights work. You should also make sure other items such as marine flares haven’t expired. Do yourself a favor and set a reminder on your smartphone to replace them as needed.
Put Together a Boat Safety Kit.
The chances are that when something goes wrong, you’re far from shore. That’s one reason we included this one on our list of boat safety tips. We suggest filling it with spare bulbs for your navigation lights, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a multi-tool device for small repairs. Other useful items include duct tape, extra sunscreen, and some spare cash.
Keep an Eye Out for Others in the Water.
Piloting a boat is a serious responsibility. That means staying alert for potential hazards in the water, whether it’s an anchored vessel, kids swimming, or a sailboat underway. The same caution applies when water skiing or tubing. Stay at least 100 feet away from any other crafts. Also, make sure to have a spotter. Keep your eyes on the water in front of you.
Use the Engine Cut-Off Switch (ECOS) Link.
The ECOSL is a lanyard that attaches to the ignition of a boat or the outboard motor to kill the power immediately in case of an emergency. Most newer boats have one. As of April 2021, it is a federal law to use it if your boat has one installed. It protects the pilot or anyone else that may have fallen overboard.
Boat Safety Checklist
You may find it helpful to keep a boat log to remind you to take care of the tasks on your boat safety checklist. Alternatively, create a document on your smartphone or laminate a typed sheet to check things off as you complete them. Of course, the most important thing is that you do it every time you boat.
- Make a float plan.
- Check the weather forecast.
- Verify the number of PFDs.
- Check the fuel gauge.
- Test the navigation lights.
- Use the ECOS link every time you go boating..