Nothing is more enjoyable than spending the day with friends and family on your boat. Safety is the most important thing in your life. These important safety tips will help you safely operate your boat.
1. Make sure you have a boat safety kit.
Predicting what will happen in an emergency is impossible, so you should be ready for it. No matter how big or small your boat, you should always have a boat safety kit onboard. Here are the essential items you should have in your boat safety kit.
- Flashlight – A flashlight and additional batteries can be used to see around your boat at night. They also allow you to be seen in case you run out of fuel or your boat stalls.
- Duct Tape – How to spring a leak? Use duct tape to temporarily close the hole.
- Bucket– Water can still get in the boat, even if it isn’t leaking. You can bail it out with a bucket.
- First Aid Kit – In case of an emergency or accident, a well-equipped first aid kit and knowledge about how to use it are vital.
- Whistle– A waterproof whistle is a must-have as it serves to signal for assistance on the water.
- Ropes These ropes are essential for pulling someone in if they have fallen overboard. They also secure your boat to the dock and tie down any loose items in extreme weather.
- Mirror — A mirror or other reflective object can signal for assistance.
- Garbage bags– These can be used as rain ponchos or protection for items aboard.
- Fire extinguisher– Being on the water does not mean that you cannot have an onboard fire. Every passenger should be able to locate and use their fire extinguisher.
- Life jackets – Every person aboard a vessel should be wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved jacket. For more information about choosing the right life jackets, please read on.
2. Get the right jackets for your life.
Life jackets are more than just life jackets. Many life jackets can be used to make an unconscious person’s face visible and prevent hypothermia. All boats must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person aboard. Children must also wear life jackets in some states. A life jacket that fits your height and weight is a good choice.
- Before purchasing, try it on. Attach the vest to your body, and then have someone pull the top of your arm opening.
- Inflatable life vests, both manual and auto, can be used to turn the unconscious wearer upside down. However, they need to be maintained regularly. Children under 16 years old are not recommended to use them.
- For fishing trips, a life jacket should have pockets and straps so you can carry your tackle and other supplies.
There are many life jackets available on the market. You should ensure that the jacket you purchase is suitable for your water activity.
3. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
Boating is best on sunny days. However, you cannot always predict when a storm might roll in. An approaching storm is indicated by choppy water and wind gusts that vary. Even if it is a spring day, the water could reflect winter temperatures. If your boat capsizes or you or your passengers are soaked, you should have a plan for getting help and drying off.
4. Do not overload your boat with equipment or people.
Follow your boat’s maximum capacity. Your craft can be unbalanced if you overload it with passengers or gear.
5. Check for harmful fumes.
After you have refueled your boat, open all hatches and smell the fumes. Do not start the engine if you are able to detect it.
Carbon monoxide, which can build up around and in your boat, can knock you and your guests unconscious. You should be aware of where fumes or gases can build up, such as:
- Canvas enclosures that are not adequately ventilated
- Spaces enclosed
- Blocked exhaust outlets
- Nearby boats
- If your engine is idle, you can run at a slower speed or stop the engine.
6. Water is commonplace.
The rules for water are the same as those for roads. Common sense is important, including staying alert at all times, operating at a safe pace, and making sure passengers remain within the boat’s railings.
7. Use proper anchoring techniques.
It is not enough to have the right anchor. You may need to place two anchors in a V shape at the boat’s front to prevent the wind from dragging it. You may want to drop your anchor in deeper water, around 20-30 feet, to prevent the tide from lifting it.
8. Be sure to follow the correct docking procedures.
Docking can be difficult depending on how strong the wind is, what current you have, and the type of your boat. To prevent damage to your boat, slow down and secure the docking lines as you approach the shore or dock. Bring the boat two feet away from the dock if the wind blows towards the shore. The wind will pull the boat in gently. The lines can be used to secure the boat. To compensate for wind gusts, you can approach the dock from a 20-30 degree angle. Secure the bow line.
9. Learn boating safety.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 70% of boating accidents occur due to operator error. Make sure you are familiar with the rules and your responsibilities before you leave the dock. There are many online courses, some of which are free. The Boat US Foundation offers an online course in boating safety that is free and tailored to each state. Additional online and hands-on courses are offered by the U.S. Coast Guard for boating safety.
10. Get your boat checked.
Free Vessel Safety Inspections are offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. If your boat fails to pass, there is no cost and no penalty.
Accidents can happen, no matter how careful you try to keep your passengers, yourself, and your boat safe. Get boat insurance to protect your vessel.