It’s officially boating season and when you’re out on the water you never know what might happen, so it is crucial that you do everything in your power to have a safe day out on the water. Here are some tips to ensure your safety as well as the safety of those out on the boat with you!
You and Your Boat
Driving a boat requires focus so use caution and common sense. To help keep your mind at ease, always have a spotter or an observer to look out for the people in and around the boat as well as other boats. When passengers are changing seats, stay low and near center line, especially if you are on a small boat.
Often times when you do go out on the boat, you’ll bring company; it’s important to be prepared for all of the people on board and any riders. Always bring extra gear with you. You may need it in case you become stranded on a boat. Always carry distress signals on board. Right before you leave tell someone where you’re going, who is with you, and how long you’ll be away.
A Quick Checkup!
Before you can enjoy being out on the boat make you give your boat and surroundings a checkup!
- The weather (stay in if the weather looks suspect!)
- All the equipment
- Bindings and fins
- Flotation device
- Towrope (frayed, knotted, etc.)
- Fuel (remember to ventilate after fueling)
Do not use if any of these things are damaged. It is important to remember that towropes stretch during use. If a rope breaks or is suddenly released, it can snap back striking boat occupants or the user which could result in injury or death. Before using a towrope, make sure that it is not wrapped around any part of your body. If your towrope wraps around your propeller, turn off your boat and take the key out of the ignition. Propellers are very sharp and can cut through wet skin.
Communication is Key!
Everyone in and outside of the boat should have a way to communicate with each other. A great way to do that is to agree on a set of hand signals prior to going out on the lake. Make sure the rider, or someone on a tube, communicates that they are ready before the driver starts out. To ensure safety of the people with you on your boat, always keep a safe distance of at least 100 feet from other boats. Be wary of trouble when a powerboat passes you in a narrow channel.
On your boat there must be Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs. Did you know that 90% of all boating fatalities are due to drowning? Or that drowning is the 3rd leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, and is the 2nd leading cause of accidental death in people ages 11-44? 70% of people whose boats have capsized or people who fall overboard drown, 85% of people whose boats capsized or those who fall overboard and drown have PFDs in their boat but are not wearing them, and 63% of all people who drown never intended to be in the water.
Those are some scary statistics! Having PFDs is imperative! Make sure the PFDs on your boat are readily accessible, the correct size, and you have one per person.
- Children under the age of 6 must wear a Type I or Type II while on the open deck of a vessel.
- Anyone who is operating, riding on, or being towed behind PWC must wear a Type I, II, or III PFD.
- Vessels 16′ or longer in length must have a Type IV throw-able PFD in addition to jacket type PFDs on board.
- The use of Type III inflatable PFDs is illegal when operating, riding on, or being towed by a PWC but Type III inflatable PFDs are legal on watercraft (other than PWCs for persons 16 years of age or older).
Boating Safety Classes
This post is not a supplement for a boater safety class! If you’re out on a boat and haven’t taken a boater safety class, it’s never too late. They are offered for free. Click HERE for a list of boater safety classes being offered by the Sheriff’s Office. To register, please call (248) 858-7831.