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Boating is one of the most entertaining activities one can participate in, especially in the warmer seasons. However, boating is also a large cause of accidents on lakes and other bodies of water.
To ensure your safety and the safety of others (not to mention your beautiful boat!) we have some important tips you should take a look at. These tips may seem like common sense to you, but if you implement them each time it will be smooth sailing.
1. Keep a Safety Kit on Hand
This is smart to have, no matter what kind of sport you’re participating in. Of course, we hope you never have to use this, but it’s always better to be prepared for whatever may come your way.
Flashlight – Yes, most smartphones today have some form of flashlight feature built into them, but you don’t want to suck your phone’s battery in case you need it! Not only that, but you need a powerful flashlight – something much more powerful than a cellphone can offer. This will let you see around your boat in the dark, as well as the water. Keep some extra batteries safe as well.
Duct Tape – Yes, this may sound a bit amateur, but it’s a surprisingly effective way at plugging up a hole if you happen to catch a leak in your boat. Of course, this is only a temporary solution and you should definitely start making your way back to shore as soon as you patch it up.
Bucket – If you’re unable to fix a leak, if you hit a big wave, or happen to somehow get water inside your vessel some other way, you’ll need a way to get it out. A bucket is the best method of doing so.
Life Jackets – We recommend having one for every passenger on your boat. However, don’t cheap out on these as they could very well save someone’s life – including yours. Make sure each one is at least approved by the U.S. Coast Guard or some other reputable organization. The type and size you purchase will vary depending on the size and weight of the wearer.
Mirror and Whistle – Both of these can be used as methods of signaling that you need help.
Fire Extinguisher – This may sound unnecessary because you’ll be surrounded by water, but it doesn’t mean your boat can’t catch on fire. Everyone on your boat should know where your fire extinguisher is located and how to use it just in case there is one.
2. Check the Weather Before Heading Out
Even if there’s not a cloud in the sky and it’s perfectly sunny out, you never know how or when that could change once you get out on the water. In fact, some of the strongest storms appear seemingly out of nowhere on those “perfect weather” days.
Not only that, you need to think about how cold the water is just in case someone does end up wet or in the water.
3. Never Overload Your Boat
Make sure you know exactly what your boat’s capacity is, first. Keep in mind it’s not only the passengers you have to worry about overloading the vessel, but your equipment as well. You really want to try to avoid unbalancing it at all costs as it can cause you some trouble.
4. Life Jackets
We already mentioned this briefly earlier up in the guide, but we really want to hammer this into you: you need quality life jackets. Many people think all the devices do is keep you afloat, and while they do offer that benefit, they do so much more.
Most quality models are made to turn unconscious people face up so they don’t drown, and also help you avoid hypothermia.
We said up above that you should have a life jacket per passenger. This is the law, so if you want to avoid some serious tickets on top of taking that risk, then you know what not to do. Depending on the state you are in, some will also require all children on board to keep their life jackets on at all times.
If you can try it on before you buy it, that’s even better. You want to ensure you have a proper fit. Fasten the vest around you, lift your arms over your head and have someone pull up on the sections over the shoulders to ensure it’s nice and snug but not too tight.
5. Keep a Marine Battery Handy
These batteries are wonderful power supplies that will help start your engine. In the majority of situations, it will be able to turn the engine for you so you’re not stuck in the middle of nowhere. It can also be used as steady power sources, keeping electronic devices like your smartphone or GPS devices charged so you are in communication and know where you’re located so you can make it back home safely.
6. GPS Chartplotters
That brings us to our next point, which is using a GPS chartplotter. You don’t want to head out onto the water aimlessly, not knowing where you’re going or what is in store for you. No matter what you’re using your boat for, you need to know these things and have general knowledge of your surroundings.
This is not only going to give you the best experience possible as you can hit all the best viewpoints and water, but it’s also critical for your safety and that of your passengers.
Now that you have read through our guide and know all about the best ways to stay safe while boating, do you feel more confident about heading out onto the water? We sure hope so, and that our guide has made you more aware of the precautions to always enforce each trip you make.
Remember, it’s not only your safety, but the safety of every living being on your boat. Thanks for staying tuned in with us, and we’ll see you again soon! Enjoy the sun and the water, but most importantly, stay safe!