Boat Trips Safety Tips
Among the many outdoor activities you may choose to enjoy alone or in the company of your close friends and relatives, boating remains a relatively safe choice. However, regardless of whether you’re fishing, skiing, or just cruising around, you may make a decision that could compromise your safety when out on the water.
to the US Coast Guard, there were over 4,000 boating accidents in 2019, which claimed approximately 600 lives and led to over 2,500 injuries. These accidents also resulted in over 55 million dollars in property damage.
Luckily, most boating accidents may be avoidable if you adhere to a few precautions. Here’s a breakdown of some of the safety tips you should keep in mind while enjoying your boating experience.
Always have a safety kit on board
Since you can’t predict when an emergency situation may arise during boating, you should always be prepared for anything. Irrespective of the size of your boat, you should always have a safety kit on board. Below’s a breakdown of some of the essential items your safety kit should have.
- Duct tape
- A flashlight along with extra batteries
- A bucket
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Life jackets
- Garbage bags
Have the appropriate life jackets
The importance of a life jacket goes beyond merely keeping you afloat. Many of them have a design that may prevent hypothermia or turn over an unconscious person who may be lying on the water upside down. The law requires all boat owners to have US Coast Guard-approved life jackets on board whenever they’re out on an excursion. In some states, kids may be required to have their life jackets on at all times.
When purchasing life jackets, always ensure that you choose one fitting for your height and weight. Also, there are many types of life jackets available in the market, so you should go for an option that suits the activity you may want to engage in while on the water. For instance, if you’re going shopping, you should select a jacket that has pockets and straps to make it easy for you to carry supplies.
Beware of harmful fumes
After you’ve refueled your boat, make a point of opening all the hatches on your boat to inspect for fumes before you’ve started the engine. If you detect any fumes, it may be unsafe to proceed with turning on the boat’s engine.
Carbon monoxide may sometimes collect inside the cabin, and it could knock out you or your guests without anyone even noticing. Therefore, you should check any one of the following areas as they’re the most common places where this lethal gas may accumulate.
- Poorly ventilated canvas enclosures
- Enclosed spaces
- Nearby boats
- Blocked exhaust outlets
Check the weather before your boat trip
Ideally, warm and sunny days offer the perfect conditions for a day out on the water with your boat. However, it may be difficult to predict the possibility of a storm. On that note, you should look out for squally waters or inconsistent gusts of wind as they’re often a sign that a storm may be approaching.
Even during the warm spring weather, the water may still have low temperatures, which is why you should have a plan to find help and get dry in case your boat capsizes.
Consider enrolling in a boating safety course
A study published by the US Coast Guard in 2020 claimed that approximately 77 percent of deaths associated with boating accidents happened due to the operator not having enough boating safety training. Therefore, before you set out on your boating trip, you should ensure that you know the rules and that you understand your responsibilities as the boat’s operator.
There are plenty of boating safety courses available online, including some that may be free. The BoatUS Foundation provides access to a free boating safety training program that’s tailored to meet the requirements in each specific state. You may also find additional options for online boating safety courses from the US Coast Guard’s website.
Avoid drinking and boating
Although many boat owners may naturally shy away from drinking while driving a car, many have no problem knocking back a few beers while operating a boat. However, if you’re concerned about your safety, you should always remember that drinking while boating may be as dangerous as drunk driving.
Besides posing serious legal consequences, drinking while behind the wheel of a boat can lead to grisly boating accidents. Some studies claim that boating under the influence of alcohol can be blamed for roughly one-third of death resulting from boating accidents. Below are some of the facts you should know regarding drinking while operating a boat.
- Alcohol is more dangerous on the water than on land.
- Boating under the influence is outlawed in all 50 US states.