A Guide to Boating Safety

Simple guidelines to help keep you safe while boating

Boating is an enjoyable past time for many people but each year, people lose their lives to boating accidents. It is important to practice boat safety and you should know how to stay safe prior to boarding a boat. From checking the vessel, to taking boating safety courses, and knowing how to swim, there are many aspects of boating safety. With some common knowledge and safety precautions, boating can be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Boat Safety Courses

Approximately seventy percent of boating accidents are due to operator error. One way to ensure that errors are not made is to take a boating safety course. There are many different boating safety courses available throughout the country. The courses cover many different aspects of boat safety, from basic navigation skills, to reading the weather, and handling the boat. Most basic boating safety courses aim to provide a foundation in boat operation and safety.

Wearing a Life Jacket

It can be tempting to not wear a life jacket when on a boat so as to enjoy the feel of the sun but it is incredibly important for all boat passengers to wear properly fitting life jackets. There are many different styles and sizes of life jackets so there is no excuse not to wear one. Life jackets should meet US Coast Guard requirements and should be tested at least once a year for buoyancy and wear. Some states require children to wear life jackets whenever they are on a boat. Boaters should check with local safety officials on the rules for particular states.

Vessel Safety Check

Before taking your boat out on the water, you should do a quick safety check. You should visually inspect the boat in addition to checking gas and oil levels. You should also ensure that there are enough life jackets on the boat. When on a yacht charter, safety checks will be done by the owners or operators before you board.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is not something people necessarily think about when boating but it can accumulate anywhere around or in the boat. Boaters should be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to where it may accumulate in and around the boat. To protect yourself and all of your passengers, you should know as much as possible about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reporting Boat Accidents

There are federal laws regarding the reporting of boating accidents. Under certain circumstances the operator or owner of the boat is required to report accidents to the proper state reporting authority. The circumstances under which accidents must be reported include when a person dies from the accident, when a person disappears from the boat under circumstances which indicate injury or death, and when someone has an injury that requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Accidents also must be reported if damage to boats or other property is two thousand dollars or more (this amount varies in different territories and states), or the boat is completely destroyed.

Boat Propeller Safety

Boaters often overlook the dangers of boat propellers but with precautions most propeller accidents can be prevented. A typical propeller on a recreational boat can travel the entire length of an average person in less than one tenth of a second. You should always check to make sure there is no one near your propeller before you start the engine. Passengers should not exit or board the boat while the engine is running. All boat passengers should be told of the dangers of propellers and their location. Boat operators should be especially careful when navigating areas that may be congested with tubers or water skiers.

Knowing How to Swim

While it is not a requirement that everyone on a boat can swim it can be helpful. While all passengers should wear life jackets, knowing how to swim can be useful in emergency situations and can also make passengers feel more secure.

As long as some basic safety precautions are taken, boating can be a fun and safe activities for both adults and kids. For additional tips on boating safety, visit the following pages.

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