After years of dreaming, you’ve finally taken the plunge and purchased your own boat. Congratulations! Boating is one of the best ways to enjoy an outdoor vacation on the lake.
However, being out on the water comes with inherent risks, and boating accidents are more common than you might think.
When it comes to safe boating, what do you need to know as a new boat owner? Before heading to the lake, keep reading to find seven top tips for boating safety.
1. Safe Boating Means Wearing Lifejackets
Even if you’re a confident swimmer, bringing life jackets and keeping them on is always a good strategy. It’s also required by law for children under 13 to wear a life jacket on a boat, so make sure you have both adult and child sizes for your boat.
Weather conditions or accidents can happen at any time when you’re out on the water, so don’t take any risks—stay safe with personal floatation devices.
When it comes to safety on board, you’ll also want to ensure you have a fully-stocked first-aid kit with you at all times.
2. Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix
The idea of a few drinks on the water sounds tempting. But, if that’s your plan, you need a designated driver for the boat, as alcohol and boating are a dangerous combination.
Just like on land, lakes and waterways are policed, with officers doing blood alcohol testing to make sure captains aren’t over the legal limit for their state.
Unfortunately, alcohol is the leading contributing factor when it comes to fatalities from boating accidents. Everyone wants to enjoy a beer when boating or camping with family and friends, but wait until you’re done boating.
If you’re a passenger on board and enjoying a drink, keep in mind that the intense summer sun intensifies the effects of alcohol. Try to limit your consumption and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
3. Have Your Boat Serviced Regularly
If you own a boat, you may only use it during summer vacations. However, your boat still needs regular servicing to make sure it’s safe for use.
Boat maintenance should include a thorough cleaning, engine and oil servicing, a check of all moving parts, an inspection of the plumbing system, and a check of the hull and topsides. If you’re not a boating expert, find a reputable service center who can look after it for you.
If you take your boat out and it has any faults or mechanical issues, your safety is at risk.
When it comes to boat servicing, many boat storage facilities also offer this service—an easy way to keep your boat protected and in working condition year-round.
4. Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Hazards
Boating can be a lot of fun, but you need to keep your wits about you. Even in open water, there are plenty of navigational hazards you need to keep watching for.
While boating, always keep an eye for other boats, buoys, floating docks, swimming platforms, and swimmers or kayakers. A collision with a fixed object like a dock can cause serious damage to your vessel, along with injury.
When docking, take it extremely slow and ask others to help you look for hazards, especially if you’re new to boating.
5. Follow the Weather Closely
A sunny day out on the water is the perfect way to spend your outdoor vacation. The best boating weather is calm, flat waters and clear visibility.
However, maritime conditions can change quickly, which can put your safety at risk.
Before setting out, check the weather forecast in great detail. Download a reliable weather app on your phone, which makes it easier to keep track of the forecast.
If the winds pick up, dark clouds seem to be building up, or you sense a thunderstorm is possible, head back to shore quickly. Although it’s never fun to cut short your day on the water, lightning strikes can be devastating to boats and storms can endanger your boat and its passengers.
6. Have the Necessary Lighting for Boating at Night
If you plan on being on the water at night, be prepared for extreme darkness. This makes it very hard to see your surroundings, so you’ll need to have the right lighting on your boat.
This is both a legal requirement and an essential safety feature for both powered and unpowered boats. The lighting requirements are in place from dusk to dawn, but also in fog or overcast conditions.
The interior of your boat should also have adequate lighting so that passengers can move around safely.
7. Recognize the Signs of Drowning
To stay safe on the water, it’s important to recognize the signs of distress and drowning in the water. Swimming is one of the great things about boating, but accidents or injuries can happen quickly.
If you’re able to know the signs of drowning, you can take action sooner. This is especially true for children, who may not be as confident in the water as teenagers or adults.
Always keep floatation devices on board for use for a rescue and remove the person from the water as soon as you can, while still looking after your own safety.
In case of an emergency, boat owners may want to learn rescue breathing and CPR techniques.
Stay Safe with These Top Boating Tips
You’re no doubt looking forward to taking your new boat out on the lake this summer. However, before you get going, take the time to read and understand the safe boating tips above.
Boating is one of the most exciting summer activities, but safety is the most important consideration. Make sure you have an emergency plan and safety procedures in place for your boat before hitting the water.
By following the safety tips above, you can stay safe and healthy, enjoying your new boat for years to come.
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