Tips to Help You "Float Your Boat" Safely
It's summer. The time when rivers, lakes, and oceans are packed with kayakers, windsurfers, paddle boarders, and boaters looking for fun, exercise, and relaxation. But while boating can be a refreshing and fun activity; it can also be dangerous. In fact, each year, hundreds of people are killed in senseless and preventable boating accidents.
An easy way to prevent the chance of a boating accident is to follow these smart boating safety tips:
- Never drink alcohol or take drugs before boating. It goes without saying that you should never operate any vehicle while under the influence. However, with exposure to sun and wind, the effects of alcohol are often increased on the water.
- Wear your life jackets. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that approximately 90 percent of drowning victims did not wear floatation devices. Whether you're paddling on a kayak or cruising along on a pontoon boat, always ensure you and your passengers have a life jacket.
- Get familiar with the water before you set sail. Before you set out on a new path, take the time to familiarize yourself with the area. You should also be aware of the temperature of the water, as cold water could cause cardiac arrest and hyperventilation.
- Watch the weather. With the Internet or your smartphone, you can get detailed weather reports wherever you plan to go. Before you set out on a boating or canoeing excursion, study the weather to ensure there are no strong winds or lightening storms in the forecast.
- File a float plan. If you plan to go out on the water, be sure to share your plans by telling someone where and when you are going, and who will be accompanying you.
- Be a rule follower. Rules were meant to be followed. Obey all instructions in the water and on your watercraft. Make sure your passengers are safely seated and not fooling around or engaging in activities that could cause the boat to rock or tip over.
- Take a boating course. Whether you're an experienced boater or a beginner, it's important to stay educated about changing safety information.
For more information on safe boating practices from the U.S. Coast Guard, visit http://www.uscgboating.org.
Happy, safe boating!