Boating safety tips are an important yet sometimes overlooked aspect of boating. Accidents are not rare when boating, but many are preventable. Here are some tips to keep your next boating trip as safe as possible.
One of the most important things you can do when boating is avoid alcohol. Many people choose to drink while operating a boat, but the impairment in judgment and the delayed reaction time in the event of an accident make this a very bad idea. More than a third of boating deaths involve alcohol. Similarly, you should drive responsibly and not try to show off or fool around when driving a boat.
Of course you should be wearing a life jacket at all times, which is another boating safety tip some people choose to ignore. A life jacket can make the difference between life and death if you ever find yourself unintentionally in the water. Waiting until the boat has hit something or flipped over is too late for a life jacket. Life jackets are especially important for children, even ones who can swim well.
Never go out in bad or questionable weather. Have a radio with you that can alert you to an incoming storm. Pay attention to the elements; the wind, water and sky to give you clues that bad weather is approaching. If a storm is coming or it even seems like it might be on its way, head back to shore. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of the ocean in bad weather.
You should also be able to operate a boat. Make sure that you have your boating license and that you are up to date and comfortable with boating operations. You should be knowledgeable about simple, yet vital boating rules such as right of way and speed in various realms of the ocean.
Check your boat every time you're going to head out to make sure it's in sound condition and doesn't need any repairs. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and that it's Coast Guard approved. Check your lights to be certain they work. Keep backup supplies as well as a first aid kit on board and easily accessible.
Somebody should know where you're going, when you're leaving as well as returning before you go. They should be expecting a call or other notification from you that you have safely returned. Time is of the essence when in a boating accident, so if you experience an emergency and are waiting for help, having somebody who realizes you are missing can be very beneficial.