Three Boating Safety Tips

Recreational boating is a pastime that people from all walks of life can enjoy. It provides a freedom that is unparalleled. You can leave all your cares on the dock, as you drift peacefully across the blue waters to whatever destination your heart desires. But as with all fun hobbies, safety comes first. Here are three boating tips to keep you safe while out on the water. 

1. Keep your safety equipment up-to-date

When setting sail for a trip, the last thing you want to think about is a potential emergency. But the unexpected may happen, and the best way to minimize the negative effects is by being prepared. According to Coast Guard regulations, all boats should be equipped with certain safety equipment. Here is a list: 

  • Map of the waters
  • A certificate number (state registration)
  • State numbering (no less than three inches high, in black/white)
  • Life jackets or personal flotation devices
  • Visual distress signals (electric distress light, flares, smoke signals, flags)
  • Fire extinguishers (fully operational, not expired)
  • A ventilation system
  • Sound producing devices (bell, whistle, or air horn)
  • A backfire flame arrestor
  • Navigation lights
  • Certified Marine sanitation device (on boats with toilets)
  • Communication device

2. Respect the weather

To stay safe on the water, it’s important to respect the weather. Before heading out, check the weather radio for short term forecasts that cover a period up to six hours to help you plan your day. Continue to check the broadcasts while out on the water to make sure no sudden changes have been reported, and watch the skies and water to observe changes in the atmosphere. Strong winds, lightning, rain, and rough water can mean trouble for unsuspecting boaters, and even thunderstorms can cause changes in the behavior of the water. So keep a close ear to the radio and eye on the water and be ready to return to land if necessary. 

3. File a float plan

A float plan is a document that details your expected destination and trip duration. It informs its readers of your boat’s guests and safety equipment, and gives a description of what your boat looks like. Your float plan should be given to a friend or family member who will stay still on land, and pass along the vital information it contains, in the unfortunate case that you don’t make it to your destination within an appropriate amount of time. If your designated informant doesn’t hear from you, per direction of your float plan, they can reach out to the Coast Guard for help.

Preparation is always your best defense. Check these three boating safety items off your to-do list before you leave the shore. By prioritizing your safety, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your time aboard the boat because you’ve already done the hard work behind the scenes. 

LeslieThree Boating Safety Tips
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Ready To Go Boating? Ensure Safety With These Tips!

Boating is an undeniably fun and relaxing activity. Aside from that, this type of recreation gives multiple benefits to a person’s health and wellbeing. A research study done by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, said that boating can make you happier and healthier. Nichols’ research likewise said that boating promotes creativity and reduces stress.

With all the great perks that you can get from sailing on water, it is understandable if you eagerly set a schedule for a boating session right away. It would, however, be careless and unwise to head to the nearest lake, ocean or river without prioritizing safety. Boating may not sound as extreme as other water sports but you still have to exercise precautions in order to avoid any untoward incidents.

Safety Reminders For Boating

To ensure that you are not putting your life (and the life of your companions) at risk, you may want to ask yourself the following questions before going out to sail or boat:

Are you wearing a life-vest?

It is better to be safe than sorry, so do not belittle or ignore the importance of wearing a life jacket while sailing on water. Each person should be wearing a properly-fitted life-vest while on board. However, just wearing one is not enough. It pays to ensure that the life vests on your boat are the right size and pass the standards of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG has different requirements for various type of water activities and it would not hurt to check their rules before a boating session.

Are you sober?

Drinking while driving is against the law and you should apply the same principle to boating as well. If you intend to spend some time aboard a boat, it is best to ditch alcohol for the day. Do not carry any alcoholic beverages on the boat as well. This is especially because reports from the USCG said that a third of all deaths caused by boating involve alcohol. Another thing, you are in a better position to watch the waves and savor the ocean breeze if you are sober.

Do you have an emergency kit?

Emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere. However, you can boat peacefully if you stock up on tools that can help you cope with any kind of mishap, even while you are in the middle of a lake. Your boat should have a handy first aid kit and a portable battery-operated radio. Among other things, you would also want to have a flashlight, fire extinguisher, and handyman tools on your boat.

Do you have a float plan?

A float plan is a form you can fill out before you set off on your voyage. It should contain essential information about the persons on the boat, details about your boat and the route you plan to take. The time you leave and expected time of return should also be indicated on the form. You leave this  document with a friend or relative (any person you trust) so you can be sure that someone will come looking for you if you don’t return. You can easily download float plan templates online.

Do you have carbon monoxide detectors?

According to a the 2017 report of Recreational Boating Statistics, carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common reason for sickness and fatality among boaters. It is very important to guarantee that your boat is

protected from carbon monoxide. This poisonous gas can emit from poorly installed boat engines, exhaust pipes and generators. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, it is wise to watch out for any leaks on boat parts that can emit the gas. Even if your boat is free of the poisonous gas, you are also in danger if you happen to dock near a vessel that emits carbon dioxide. Everyone on the boat should therefore be aware of the symptoms and warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. With early detection a remedy can be given right away.

Boating is a great way to enjoy nature. It can also soothe the senses and recharge your spirit. Maximize all the benefits you can have while boating by taking all necessary precautions before sailing.

Leslie WolgamottReady To Go Boating? Ensure Safety With These Tips!
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