Boating and driving have a lot in common. Before you get behind the wheel of a car, you study the rules of the road and slowly learn how to be a safe driver. Knowing the laws and regulations while acting accordingly can help keep you and your passengers safe. Being a good, cautious driver can also help keep others safe. The same processes and mentality are applicable to boating. With summer right around the corner, it’s crucial to remember how important boating safety is.
Knowing the weather and water conditions before leaving the dock is a great start to boating safety. A quick check of the forecast can help you plan a safe day out on the water. Rain storms, or worse, thunderstorms can cause harsh conditions that make boating extremely stressful and difficult. When you can avoid these types of situations, you can act accordingly and get your boat back to the dock before volatile winds and rain cause something bad to happen.
If the weather looks good, you can start going over your pre-departure checklist that will help ensure a safe trip. Part of being a safe boater is keeping all of your passengers safe. That being said, before leaving the dock you should check for life jackets, make sure you have enough gas for your trip as well as proper functionality of the navigation, throttle and motor. Also designate the operator of the boat and a backup operator in case the primary boater becomes unable to safely operate the boat.
When you’re out on the water you should always be paying attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other boats and vessels as well as swimmers. You should always be respectful of buoys and navigational aids while boating at a safe speed. A safe speed allows you to stop when necessary and remain in full control of the boat at all times. Much like driving, it’s important to boat defensively with the ability to quickly react appropriately to any situation out on the water.
One of the major safety problems when it comes to boating is the consumption of alcohol while operating the vessel. When alcohol is involved your chances of getting into a boating accident doubles. Since sun and wind can increase the affects of alcohol use, it can be especially dangerous to mix drinking and boating. It is also against the law to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, just like it is illegal to operate a vehicle while drunk.
Practicing proper boating safety doesn’t just keep you safe. It also ensures that your passengers and other boaters in the area stay safe and unharmed as well. Being reckless or impaired when operating a boat can cause injury, damage and even death. No one wants to start the day out enjoying the sun and waves only to end up at the hospital. Knowing the correct boating regulations and following them will help you enjoy your boat in a safe way for you and everyone else.