One of America’s most popular pastimes is boating. There’s nothing quite like spending a lazy summer day on the water. Imagine yourself basking under the warm sun, with the ocean breeze ruffling your hair and the cool mist on your skin. And there are lots of fun activities you can do while you’re out boating: swimming, fishing, touring, the list goes on.
Even if you don’t have your own boat, you can still enjoy the water with boat rentals. But whether you own a boat or rent one, your first priority should be safety. Safety often takes a backseat when everyone’s busy having fun, but one simple mistake could have life-altering consequences.
Luckily, many water-related accidents can be avoided with a few simple precautions.
- Don’t drink alcohol
Most people would never dare drink alcohol while driving a vehicle, and for good reason. But some people think it’s perfectly fine to crack open a cold one while operating a boat. Just because you’re taking your boat out to water doesn’t mean the old rules don’t apply anymore. It’s illegal to operate any vehicle, including boats, while under the influence of alcohol.
Drinking while boating can cause serious accidents leading to injuries and even loss of life. The sun, wind, waves, and other environmental factors make the effects of alcohol more noticeable on water than on land.
As a rule of thumb, don’t drive if you’ve had a drink. Penalties include fines, suspension of license, and even jail time.
- Wear a life jacket
According to the United States Coast Guard, deaths from boating accidents can be reduced by as much as 80 percent if the victim had worn a life jacket. While many states only require life jackets to be readily accessible, a life jacket is only useful if it’s being used. If a rogue wave hits your boat, you won’t have enough time to grab one before you’re thrown offboard.
Make sure to follow laws regulating life jackets. For instance, you will need child-specific life jackets in your boat to ensure all passengers are covered. Regular adult life jackets are too big for children, and therefore ineffective. Don’t forget to test the life jackets at least twice a year. If the life jacket no longer floats as well, you might need to replace it.
- Check the weather
Many boating accidents are related to inclement weather. With that in mind, make it a point to check the weather forecast before you set sail. Always remember that the weather can quickly change, even if the forecast calls for clear skies.
If possible, always bring a radio and keep an eye out for weather changes once you’re sailing. If you notice storm clouds, faster wind speeds, or lightning, head for the nearest dock as soon as you can.
These safety methods will help ensure a great time while you’re out on the water. Taking proactive measures goes a long way in keeping everyone safe, so don’t forget to inspect the boat for issues before leaving the dock. Finally, make sure you’re equipped with essential gear such as paddles, a first-aid kit, spare radio equipment, and a tool kit.
Meta Title: Boating Safety: Reminders for Tourists
Meta Description: Proactive measures go a long way in keeping everyone safe. Here’s what you need to know.