May is National Boat Safety Month, and with summer around the corner, boating can be very fun and enjoyable, allowing you to catch some amazing views and sights that you wouldn’t normally see from the land. But on the other hand, it can also be very dangerous and hard work.
Each year hundreds of lives are lost, thousands are injured, and millions of dollars of property damage occurs because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways. Too often, pleasure outings turn tragic. You–as a boat operator, passenger, or concerned individual–can make a difference. No matter how much experience you have, it’s always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before departure.
Proper boating safety includes being prepared for any possibility on the water. Following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been overlooked or forgotten.
A life jacket (or Personal Flotation Device – PFD) is the single most important piece of equipment on your boat and the most important consideration should be size. More than two-thirds of all boating fatalities are drowning incidents, and 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. So buy a life jacket that you will wear. It could save your life. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly urges boat operators and their passengers to wear a life jacket all the time while underway.
Service your equipment, making sure it’s in the best possible shape for the boating season, and that the equipment matches the type of boat and boating habits you intend using. Operator errors account for 70% of boating accidents–take a course.
Educate yourself about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning–a potentially lethal boating danger.
Be weather-wise. There will be times when you will need to either exit or enter a port in rough and challenging conditions. Learning how rough weather affects the various harbors and entrances throughout your local area, is necessary to operate safely.
Remember, BE SAFE–KNOW YOUR…
Safety devices and PFDs
First aid and emergency procedures
Environment (area and weather)
…BEFORE YOU GO!