Warmer weather have you longing to hit the water? Boating can be a fun activity for the whole family, but it can be hazardous if you aren’t careful. This summer, avoid dangerous boating accidents with these 10 tips for safe sailing.
- Watch the weather forecast. Bad weather can sneak up quickly and turn a lovely day into a dangerous situation. Always check local weather conditions before setting out. If you notice dark clouds, rougher water, changes in the wind, or a sudden drop in temperature, get out of the water.
- Perform pre-departure checks. Before you cast off or paddle away, you need to perform some basic safety checks. Here’s a checklist to help you ensure that everything is taken care of before you set off.
- Use common sense on the water. What this means is to pay attention to the conditions and ensure that you’re being safe. Operate your vessel at a safe speed that allows you to maneuver and stop if needed. Stay clear of larger boats that may not have the maneuverability needed to prevent accidents. Respect navigational aids, like buoys, since they are there to keep you safe.
- Designate an assistant skipper. If the skipper is in charge of operating the boat, make sure they have an assistant skipper who is there to help them. The assistant skipper should be familiar with the operation and navigation of the boat. If the skipper is injured, they can take over for the skipper and get the boat back to shore.
- Develop a “float plan.” This plan is your itinerary for the trip, and should be left with someone on shore, such as a family member or marina staff. It should include your destination or planned route, the length of your trip, and contact information for the skipper. You may also wish to include contact information for the passengers, the boat registration information and type, and information about the communication devices on board.
- Use your lifejackets. If you’re on the dock or on board, you need to have a lifejacket on. The majority of drowning victims are boaters who weren’t wearing life vests, so it’s critical for every person on board to properly fit and wear life vests.
- Leave the alcohol at home. Boats and booze don’t mix. Alcohol can impair your judgment, slow your reaction times, limit your ability to keep warm, and can make you dangerous. Sun and wind exposure can make alcohol’s effects even stronger, so you may become impaired far more quickly than you’re used to. Save the alcohol for when you’re home.
- Know how to swim. If you’re going to be around the water, you need to know how to swim, it’s as simple as that. Look for classes by the American Red Cross or other organizations that are age and ability appropriate.
- Take a boating course. Whether you prefer to sail, kayak, or use a motorboat, boating courses can teach you the rules of safe boating. Navigation, the right of way, and other safety rules should be covered, so you’re prepared for a safe day on the water.
- Get a free safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks to make sure that your boat is in good operating condition and has all necessary safety precautions. They also offer online safety checks to help you prepare on your own.
Boating can be a fun way to enjoy a day, but it’s important to stay safe. If an accident occurs and you or a loved one is injured, our Toledo personal injury attorneys can help! At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we have more than 100 years of collective experience to call upon as we help you navigate the process of your claim. Schedule a free case evaluation with our team to learn more.