Do You Know the Rules of the Water? Safe Boating Basics and Tips
So you’ve purchased a boat, rented a runabout or found a friend who has a boat. Before you pack the cooler, towels and sunscreen, there are a few safe boating tips and rules that every boater should know whether they are the captain, a passenger or part of the crew.
Life jackets and safety gear
Pack the life jackets and use them. Most drownings are the result of not wearing a life jacket. Don’t be a statistic. It is also required to have first aid kits, flares, whistles and fire extinguishers on board a boat. Take advantage of free vessel safety checks to ensure that your boat is compliant with all U.S. Coast Guard safety standards.
Check the weather
Storms and severe weather can pop up at any time. Check local weather conditions before you leave, and invest in on-board electronics to stay on top of weather conditions. If you do notice darkening clouds or other signs of inclement weather, get off of the water.
Float plans and pre-departure check lists
Compile a pre-departure check list of everything that needs to be done before you leave the dock. This could include things like making sure the life jackets are on board, stowing inflatable and fishing gear, topping off the fuel tank and securing the boat to the dock while you park the trailer.
Leave a float plan with somebody on shore. A float plan lists details such as departure time, expected return time and make and model of the boat and trailer as well as the name and location of the marina. In the event that you need to be found or don’t show up as expected, somebody on land will have all of this important information readily available.
Choose an assistant
Make sure that somebody else on board is familiar with how to operate the boat in case of an emergency.
Right of way on the water
When approaching another vessel, it is the same concept as being on the road at an unmarked intersection.
Caution and common sense
Perhaps the most important boating safety tip is to always use caution and common sense when on the water. That, and the life jacket rule. It’s not listed at number one for nothing.