Getting out on the open water, especially if you’ve been cooped up for a while, can feel exhilarating and refreshing. Now more than ever, though, boating safety remains paramount. There are plenty of standard boating safety tips you should always practice: wear a life vest, take a boating safety course, check the weather and beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. With extra measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, boaters have even more safety precautions to take into consideration when out on the water. Here are additional tips to keep you safe and healthy while boating.
Keep Your Distance
Even outdoors, it’s important to keep a minimum distance of six feet from others. For boaters, this means at a dock or ramp as well as out on the water. In order to help prevent bottlenecks on-ramps, try to depart as quickly as possible. You don’t want to raft up with other boats or congregate near anyone else. You might try boating at less crowded destinations or during off-hours like early mornings or midweek. If an area looks crowded, try another spot or come back another day. This could be a great opportunity to find a new favorite, undiscovered spot.
Keep It in the Household
Only boat with people you live with. While it’s tempting to think you may be safe outdoors and can be around others, boats are more similar to an indoor space with their limited footprint. It’s better to not expose others or yourself. It’s also best to limit the number of people on board and keep it at five or less.
Stay Home If You Feel Sick
Take stock of how you and anyone who plans to boat with you feels before heading out. Just like checking the weather, it’s important to check how you’re feeling before you head to the dock so as not to cause undue stress on coastal patrols and emergency responders if you or someone in your party falls ill.
Don’t try to use a beach, dock, or marina that is closed. It’s likely closed for a reason. Check with your local authorities in advance to confirm accessibility and hours. As with feeling sick, you don’t want to be a burden on rescue teams or local resources if something goes wrong.
You’ll want to avoid coming into contact with high-touch objects like rails, tie-offs, fuel pumps, and posts. If you have to touch them, you can use gloves and immediately discard them or disinfectant the surface. You can also use hand sanitizer afterwards but still refrain from touching your face afterwards.