In the sweltering heat of summer, there are few things better than spending a day out on the water. However, whether paddling in a kayak or cruising in a motorized boat, it’s essential not to let boat safety fall to the wayside. If you’re planning on spending time on the water this summer, here are three critical safety tips to keep in mind:
Life jackets are a must
Regardless of the type of boat you are on or how good a swimmer you are, life jackets are vital for a safe time on the water. When a person falls overboard, they may be disoriented, unconscious or injured and unable to swim. In 2017 alone, 76% of boating fatalities were due to drowning; of those victims, 84% were not wearing a life jacket. A life jacket is crucial for keeping a person’s head above water until help arrives.
When choosing a life jacket for you or your family member, be sure that the jacket:
- Is a proper fit for the person’s weight and size
- Is correctly fastened
- Are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard
Never drink and boat
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating under the influence (BUI) is the leading cause of recreational boat deaths. The environmental conditions of boating such as sun, wind and boat motion magnify the side effects of alcohol and make boat operation more difficult.
Even if you are only a passenger on the boat, intoxication could put you at risk of falling overboard, swimming near the propeller or standing up and causing the ship to capsize. Always stay sober when you’re out on the water or designate a sober driver to ensure everyone gets back to land safely.
Always be prepared
Before setting out for the day, here are a few ways you can ensure you are ready for a safe and enjoyable time on the water:
- Establish a float plan by telling a trusted friend or relative your travel plans and expected time of return.
- Look up the weather forecast and stay alert to changing conditions
- Dress appropriately for the weather and bring sunscreen
- Ensure your boat equipment is in good working order
- Make sure you have enough fuel
- Don’t leave without life jackets, a first aid kit and tool kit
Summer is meant for enjoying fun in the sun. By following these boating safety tips, you can ensure everyone stays safe on the water this year.