Taking your boat out on a hot, sunny day is a summertime staple for people everywhere. However, it’s important to keep the safety of your passengers, the boat, and the environment in mind. Nobody wants to ruin a great day on the water with a boating accident, so follow these tips and stay safe and responsible on your next outing.
1. Be prepared with the right safety equipment
Make sure you have life jackets for everyone on board, and that children are wearing them at all times. It is also important to keep a brightly colored flag so if anyone goes into the water, you can warn other boats to keep their distance. Other useful items include:
- a whistle-which can help people in the water be found
- first aid kit-in case of emergency
- flashlight-to signal for help or see in the dark
- fire extinguisher-fires don’t just happen on land
- rope-for tying off the boat or helping people back in
2. Take an online or in person boating safety course
Just because you know how to drive a car or have experience with boats doesn’t mean you know all of the boating procedures/laws or can’t make a mistake. It’s important to know how to properly operate and be safe on a boat before ever taking one out. Boat U.S. Foundation offers free boating courses for each state, so there’s no excuse not to brush up on your boating knowledge. Many states also require a boating course, so be sure to check the laws of the state you’re boating in.
3. Check your boat before you hit the water
All types of accidents can be avoided if you make sure your vessel is in working order before you ever unload it. Make sure to check the gas, fluid levels, battery, and that all parts of boat are in safe, working condition. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will even do a safety check for you, completely free of charge!
4. Protect the environment—check for invasive species
Inadvertently transporting invasive species—such as the notorious zebra mussel—causes billions of dollars in damages to the economy, and can irreparably harm the environment. Invasive species can kill local species of fish and foliage, which creates a domino effect rippling through entire food chains. Protect your favorite boating spots by washing and draining your boat, checking your boat for any hitchhikers, and never transporting any live-well water or fish from one lake to another.
Follow these safety tips, and your next outing will be as safe and responsible as it will be enjoyable!