From scheduling a vessel safety check to filing a boat plan, summer is the best time to hit the waters and create some memorable moments. The long days and warm weather are just perfect for taking your boat out into the open air with friends and family to enjoy yourselves.
If you’re hitting the water to entertain your friends this season, it is important to familiarize yourself with essential boat safety tips. Maintaining safety while on the water is critical if you hope to enjoy your time while minimizing/preventing injuries or incidents.
This post provides a comprehensive overview of important safety tips and tricks to note on your next boat ride with friends and family:
1. Do Not Exceed Boat Capacity
All boats have a maximum capacity for accomplishing certain fundamental projects. There’s a certain weight each boat can hold without compromising its integrity. While it may seem like fun to have more people than officially allowed on your boat, it exposes everyone on the boat to more risk and could jeopardize the safety of everyone on the boat.
According to The Boat U.S. Foundation, every boat must have a “U.S. Coast Guard Maximum Capacity” plate to help boaters know the “maximum person’s capacity and maximum weight capacity for each person and gear.”
By adhering to the loading and capacity guidelines set by the U.S. Coast Guard, you can maintain your boat’s operating load.
2. Always Check the Weather
Most boaters assume that bright and sunny weather stays that way throughout the day. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. You can’t always predict when a storm will hit, especially during summer. Therefore, it is vital to do a thorough check of the day’s weather report while preparing for a fun day out on the water with friends and family.
Ensure you look into the current weather reports throughout the day and throughout your time out on the boat. If things change and a storm starts to roll in, you’ll need as much head notice as possible to prepare for it or get back to shore before it hits.
This might be one of the more underrated boating safety tips, but it could save your life and everyone on the boat on your fun day out.
3. Always Wear a Life Jacket
According to a report by the U.S. Coast Guard, life jackets save the lives of over 80% of boating accident victims each year. Some states even require boats to have life jackets available and accessible to boaters. But the flaw with this design is that some surprise boating accidents might not give you enough time to reach for and put on a life jacket.
Therefore, always ensure everyone onboard has a USCG-approved life jacket. The life jacket must also be the appropriate size and fit its user to increase their survivability in the event of an accident.
Most of today’s modern life jackets are thin, flexible, and compact, making them more comfortable than the previous models. So, there’s really no excuse not to have a life jacket on when on the boat.
The USCG also requires all boats 16 feet and longer to have at least one Type IV throwable device that is tested at least once each year. Life jackets that have lost their buoyancy or worn out from regular use should be discarded.
4. Equip the Necessary Boat Safety Kit
You never know what problems or other boating issues you might encounter when out at sea. A normal fun time out with friends can turn into an emergency. It is best to prepare yourself and boaters for whatever situation presents itself. A boat safety kit is essential for helping you get through any emergency or mitigating damage that would have otherwise been much worse.
So, what should a boat safety kit consist of?
- First aid kit: this is perhaps the single most important accessory to have on board. Ensure you keep the first aid kit stocked with everything you might need in an emergency. Consequently, you must know how to use the first aid kit for when the need arises to use it.
- Rope and extra life jackets: a strong long rope can help pull someone into the boat if they fall overboard. Life jackets should also be readily available in case someone accidentally goes overboard.
- Visual distress signals: boat owners must also have USCG-approved flares, day signals, flashlights, extra batteries, orange signal flags, and electric distress lights to alert other boaters or rescuers in case of an emergency.
- Sound-producing devices: in situations where visibility is an issue, boat owners can use whistles, air horns, and bells that are audible for over one-half mile. These devices must also be readily accessible to passengers onboard. If possible, attach a whistle to each life jacket so people who fall over have them and can signal other boaters for help.
- Duct tapes and buckets: these are also necessary in case you spring a leak while out at sea. This temporary solution should be able to keep your boat afloat until a rescue team arrives or you get back to shore.
5. Review Boating Insurance Policy
While boat accidents may not always occur as frequently as car accidents, it is just as important to protect your boat as you would your car. Your hopes of a boat gathering could just as quickly diminish if you don’t have the proper boating insurance cover.
Examining your insurance policy and ensuring everything is up to date is vital for covering your boat, everything in it, and the people on board. Unfortunately, many boaters forget their insurance coverage dates and end up using their boats without cover, known as “lay-up periods.” Such instances could be dangerous, considering accidents could happen at any time.
The types of boat insurance policies may include:
- Liability coverage
- Bodily injury coverage
- Property damage liability coverage
- Collision coverage for boats
- Comprehensive coverage
Ensure you have the proper coverage before setting sail and fully understand your policy navigation limits to determine which travel zones are permitted. Most boat insurance policies cover only certain waterways and depend on different factors like the size of the boat.
Therefore, ensure you check your insurance cover every boating session and make every necessary policy change before hitting the sea.
Ready to Party?
While partying with friends and family members on a boat may seem like a fun, memorable experience, there are certain boat safety protocols you must follow. The boat safety tips mentioned above should help you entertain your friends and loved ones smoothly on your boat without any hiccups.
Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And boat accidents can become disastrous and result in fatalities if you’re not too careful. Reach out to our boat safety experts for more information on the right insurance for you so that you can have the best time out at sea with friends and loved ones.