With boat traffic only increasing over the coming months, it is important that everyone practice boat safety. The following five safety tips may save your life and the lives of others.
1) Always wear a LIFE JACKET! Did you know that in 2008, 2/3 of all fatalities in boat accidents were victims of drowning and that 90% of these victims were not wearing life jackets. Furthermore, it is important that you wear the appropriate size life jacket. Both children and adults can find appropriate sized life jackets at most sports stores.
2) Always have some form of COMMUNICATION! As a boater, you always want to make sure you have the ability to communicate with people on land. Using a cell phone is fine as long as you are not too far out and can receive signal from a cell tower. Another option is a Marine Band VHF Radio. This way you can contact the Coast Guard whenever you or someone aboard your boar is in distress.
3) Make a FLOAT PLAN! A float plan is basically relaying important information to someone you trust who will not be a passenger on the boat. You want to give the following information:
- Vessel information, including registration number, length, make, horsepower, and engine type
- Trip information, including detailed route as well as departure and expected return times
- Passenger information, including every passenger's name, address, telephone number, and emergency contact
4) Keep a LOOK OUT! Watch everything around you, including other boats, swimmers, the shoreline, bridges, etc.
5) Don't BOAT UNDER THE INFLUENCE! Don't drink and boat. You can be arrested from operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is the lead contributing factor in fatal boat accidents.