Every year National Safe Boating Week puts safety front and center. But safety isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal—it’s before, during and after each and every jaunt on the open water. As a tribute to 24/7/365 safety, we’ve gathered a roundup of the top five boating safety tips you can use any time.
Tip #1: Always Wear a Life Vest!
The National Safe Boating Council says, “We believe wearing a life jacket is the simplest way to ensure the safety of you and your family while enjoying a day on the water.” According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2017 Recreational Boating Safety Statistics, drowning was the cause of 76 percent of all 658 boating fatalities. Of these, 84.5 percent were not wearing life vests.
Why should everyone wear a life jacket? Because crazy things like getting knocked unconscious can occur. No matter what happens, a life vest will float…every time. For more on finding the right life vest for your water activity, click here.
Tip #2: Take a Boating Safety Course
Not only will you learn valuable, life-saving skills, you may also save money on your boat insurance. The U.S. Coast Guard’s list includes boating safety courses offered throughout the nation for all types and ages of boaters. You’ll learn everything from boat handling to weather reading to electronic navigation skills. Whether you’re sailing, windsurfing, powerboating, or leisurely fishing, a boating safety course can provide you with the knowledge and skills to handle nearly any situation.
Tip #3: Check the Weather
The weather can change drastically from one minute to the next, especially on the water. Before you plan to head out, know the current marine weather forecast and keep checking it. You’ll want to know the temperature both in and out of the water, especially if you plan to swim or dive. If you plan to boat during the winter, you’ll need to dress appropriately to stay not only warm but dry as well.
Tip #4: Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. Odorless and colorless, it can strike if someone inhales too much of it. Gas-powered engines and generators produce CO, so it’s especially important to have a working CO detector on board, never block exhaust outlets and keep a minimum of 20 feet between your vessel and others. For more information on how you can prevent CO poisoning, click here.
Tip #5: Communicate
In the event of an emergency, a communication device could be the difference between life and death. You should have two waterproof communication devices, such as a satellite phone and a VHF radio with Digital Selective Calling. Cell phones are not reliable enough for boating.