Boating can be a wonderful recreational activity for the entire family, if you follow basic boating safety guidelines. No matter how much experience you have, reviewing these guidelines before departure is always a great idea. Here are some simple ways to ensure a terrific boating experience:
Use a pre-departure checklist. It is important to prepare for any scenario on the water. Following a checklist ensures nothing has been forgotten or overlooked. A few things to consider are:
· Disconnect all utility lines, such as power cords and water lines
· Go over rules with passengers (keep all hands and feet inside the boat, no running, etc.)
· Watch for other boats and people in the water before leaving the dock
· Proceed slowly when leaving and approaching the dock
· Clear the dock area and keep lines and fenders clear of the propeller
Check the weather. It is important to do your research before leaving the dock. Check local weather conditions and be aware of dark clouds, small craft advisory notices, high/rough winds, sudden drops in temperature, etc. Rule of thumb: When in doubt, get out of the water.
Use an equipment checklist: Along with your predeparture checklist, you should also have a list of necessary equipment, such as the following:
· Life jackets
· Throwable floatation devices
· Fire extinguishers
· Visual distress signals (Flare gun)
· A working compass and other navigation tools
· Tool kit and spare parts
· Full fuel supply (along with checking for leaks)
· Working lights and flashlights
Tell people where you are going. Before leaving the dock, someone should be informed of your whereabouts, as well as how long you will be gone (days, hours, etc.). It is also a good idea to let someone at the marina know where you are going as well. If you have an itinerary, it is best to make a copy and leave it with someone you trust, including passenger names, addresses, phone numbers, boat type, etc.
Avoid alcohol. If you are the one piloting the vessel, it is not wise to be under the influence of alcohol. As the driver, you are responsible for everyone on the boat. It is best to enjoy the trip, and save the alcohol for later.
Take advantage of a free Vessel Safety Check. Did you know the US Coast Guard Auxiliary performs complimentary safety checks for personal boats? There is absolutely no charge for this service, and no consequences if you don’t pass the safety requirements. This is simply for your awareness and safety before you leave the dock. There are many things which can be overlooked and it always helps for someone else to take a closer look.
These are just a few things you can do to practice basic boating safety. For more information on this topic, visit www.coastguardfoundation.org/boatingsafety. Bon Voyage!
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