8 Essential Boating Safety Tips

Whether you’re a new boat owner or an old pro, take time to read these essential boating safety tips before you hit the water.

Every year, preventable recreational boating accidents cause hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars of property damage. Not surprisingly, the majority of this accidents occur in the summer.

Here are 8 steps you can take to avoid the most common boating accidents.

#1. Take a Boat Safety Course.

Taking a boating safety course is one of the first things you should do as a boat owner.  In 2017, the US Coast Guard reported that 81% of deaths occurring from boating-related accidents happened on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

Taking a course doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult. The Washington State Boater Exam, for instance, costs around $30 and can be completed online. The US Coast Guard has additional resources for finding boating safety courses near you.

#2. Get Your Boat Checked.

Machinery failure is one of the top causes of boating accidents. Before you head out, do a safety check on your vessel.

Did you know you can also get your boat checked by a certified vessel inspector at no cost? Fill out this short form to schedule your inspection.

#3. Check your Life Jackets.

It’s important to have the correct number and type of life jackets aboard your vessel. Inspect them regularly to make sure they are in good condition, and replace as needed.

While this might seem obvious, consider that most boating-related deaths are due to drowning. And, in most of these instances, life jackets were not worn. It can be tempting to think they’re unnecessary if you’ve got strong swimmers aboard and aren’t venturing far, but most drowning fatalities occur close to shore.

REI has an excellent article on determining the right type of life jacket and fit you’ll need.

#4. Always Carry Safety Supplies Aboard Your Boat.

Keep your boat stocked with safety supplies – much the same way you’d do for your car on a road trip.

Here are a few things you should make sure to have on your boat at all times:

  • Life jackets (more on this later)
  • Flashlight/visual distress signals
  • Whistle/bell
  • Basic first-aid supplies
  • Duct tape

The US Coast Guard also has a helpful list of additional items you should consider and why.

#5. Know the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

All boaters should know the signs and dangers of carbon monoxide (“CO”). There are several ways CO can build up in a boat, including in cabins or near the rear swim deck or water platform.

Make sure equipment is properly installed, keep exhaust outlets clear, and swim/play away from areas where engines vent their exhaust.

See the CDC for more information on preventing CO poisoning on boats.

#6. Remember that Boating Under the Influence is Illegal.

Boating under the influence is illegal in all US states, and that includes Washington (RCW 79A.60.040). So, plan your outings accordingly. Drinking impairs judgment, impacts balance, and slows reaction times – all things that can spell disaster when operating a boat. In fact, alcohol is one of the leading factors in all boating-related fatalities.

When it comes to drinking and operating a boat – just don’t.

Check the weather before you leave.

Always make sure to check the weather before heading out on a boat. If you’re planning on a longer excursion, continue to check the weather reports periodically. While it may look like a nice summer day in the morning, there may be a wind or thunderstorm predicted for the afternoon, leaving a small vessel incredibly vulnerable.

Safe Boater has some excellent advice on making sense of weather considerations for the boater.

Pay attention!

The number one cause of boating-accidents in 2017 was operator inattention. You must give full attention to operating your boat from the moment you leave the dock until it’s anchored safely.

We hope that these boating safety tips will keep you enjoying the waters smartly and safely. And, in case you missed it – check out our safety tips for enjoying road trips, too.

Have you been the victim of a boating accident? If so, the Ladenburg Law Injury Attorneys are happy to discuss your case at no cost to you. Please contact us today.

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