New Year’s Eve may have come and gone, but hopefully your resolutions haven’t already. Whether you’re in it for the long haul, or you and your resolutions are fair-weather friends, it’s not too late to make a new New Year’s resolution. What better resolution to make than a recommitment to boating safety?
From the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to BoatUS to the American Boating Association, here are the top tips for staying safe on the water for you, your family and friends, and your pets in any season.
1) Always be aware of the weather.
Not only should you check the weather forecast to avoid dangerous weather conditions before you go, but while you’re out on the water, stay aware of weather changes. If you notice a sudden change, drop in temperature, rough or high winds, get off the water if you can. When cruising and sailing, always file/plot your course with the appropriate authorities for your area or country, like the USCG.
Track nasty weather with BostUS‘s Hurricane Tracking & Resource Center.
Keep a list of the all your gear, where it’s stored, and check that it’s all there and in working condition. Besides filing your course, let someone close to you — a friend or family member — know where you’re going and with whom you’re going. Make a list of all your fellow travelers: their names, ages, and addresses/phone numbers (if different from yours). Make a list of any stops and destinations and when you plan on departing and arriving at each.
3) Make us of life-jackets.
This tip almost seems like a no-brainer, but from the banter on social media, you’d be surprised how many people still balk at wearing life-jackets. We’ll leave that argument up to you to discuss amongst yourselves, but children under 12 must wear a life-jacket at all times on open water in most states in the U.S. SafeKids.org recommends:
- “Always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports.“
- “Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have kids make a ‘touchdown’ signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits a child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.“
And, if you’re bringing any furry friends, at least have a properly sized pet’s life-jacket for them, too. If your dog or cat can’t swim, they should probably wear it all the time on the water.
4) Don’t drink and drive.
According to the USCG, accident rates more than double when alcohol is involved with boating. Don’t forget: heat, sun, and sea can all exacerbate the effects of alcohol, too. So like when driving a car, it’s just best not to drink and drive.
Take a USCG certified safety course or take courses online. Also, if you don’t already know how, learn to swim.
- Take a free online safety course or find other boating safety courses from BoatUS.
- Take USCG Safety Courses or get a Vessel Safety Check.
- Take a fun quiz to test your boating safety know-how: Are You a Safe Boater?
6) Have the proper/extra equipment.
Besides having and wearing life-jackets when needed and planning ahead, make sure your craft has all the needed equipment — especially if going on a long trip. Some items to be sure to have on-board in proper working order:
- Enough fuel; if needed, an extra tank emergencies
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Fully charged engine battery
- A working bilge pump
- Make sure the boat’s blower, horn, and navigation lights are working (even if you’re not going out at night).
- Have an anchor and line of the size and length to enable you to safeguard the boat in the event of a breakdown.
- If you plan to be out of cell phone range, a marine radio is a must as is a GPS for navigation if you are going out to sea.
- Before leaving, install a DRIVESAVER® to save your engine in case of a stall or mechanical failure and always be sure to bring an extra impeller.