5 tips for how to stay safe on the water:
1. Life Jackets: Life jackets save lives! Chances of survival, when going over board, dramatically improve when wearing a floatation device. Children under the age of 12 should wear a life jacket at all times while boating. Before boating, make sure all life jackets are in good shape, fit properly, and are stowed in an easily accessible location.
2. Stay sober: Operating a boat while intoxicated is extremely dangerous. Operating a vessel under the influence not only puts the passengers in harms way, but also everyone else on the water.
3. Marine Radio: Investing in a good marine radio is a smart purchase. Cell phones should not be used as the primary form of communication on a boat. The reception in some areas may be poor or non-existent and precious time could be lost if an emergency does arise. A marine radio has many advantages such as a strong signal and channels reserved for distress calls. Distress calls are received by everyone monitoring a VHF radio in range, allowing for a quick response in cases of emergency.
4. Situational Awareness: The Coast Guard is reminding all boaters and waterway users to be aware of your surroundings at all times. It is important to know the limitations of your boat. Most recreational vessels are not equipped to handle a strong current and can be overcome fairly easily. Parents should keep a watchful eye on their children at all times. Being aware of all things around you is important for your safety.
The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to use common sense during recreational boating: life jackets, radios, navigation equipment and weather forecasts should all be checked before disembarking. Have your vessel inspected by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, file a float plan, and ensure you and your passengers are familiar with all safety equipment. And most importantly, wear your life jacket.
5. Boat Inspection and Trailer: insure that your boat is in good operational condition. Check gas, oil, battery, plugs, and the hull of the vessel for any damage or leaks before boating. Also inspect your trailer for cracking and rust that could lead to structural failures. Insure that the tail lights are in good working order as well. Accidents do and can happen on the road when a boat is in tow. These are simple things that could become serious concerns when on the water or road if a problem were to arise. Having confidence in your boat and equipment is key in boating safety.