- Take a boating course
Ask the county water police, natural resources police, coast guard or the US power squadron for a free boating course.
- Be aware of climate changes
Check the weather forecasts in the morning before any excursion. Weather can change very quickly therefore keep an eye on the sky while you’re on the water. Pay attention to darkening skies, increasing winds, lightning, or the sound of distant thunder. Bad weather conditions can cause all kinds of dangerous situations for boaters, and if you are caught, reduce speed and proceed with caution. Most PW’s handle best if you head into the waves at about a 45 degree angle.
- Check out the local boating laws
The boating laws are important and different in every area.
Once on a boat you should know to swim at least 20min in open water. If you don’t know, learn it. Swim courses are offered by the American red cross or local YMCA’s. Ask your passengers to use life safe equipment if they are no-swimmers before leaving the dock. Cold water of less than 70 degrees causes the body to lose heat faster than it can produce it. If you fall overboard and you can’t get out, huddle with your knees to your chest, wrap your arms around your legs and clasp your hands together. Otherwise remain as still as possible.
- Safety basics
Make a safety check list and check-off before boating. Share your safety experience with your passengers. The list should always begin with; tell somebody where you’ll be and when you will return. If you run into problems this will help authorities to find you. Never go out alone.
- Crowded areas
Slow down and be aware for the effects of your boat’s wake. Make sure you know the “rules of the road”.
Appoint someone as the skipper of the boat, who pledges not to drink in order to safely drive the boat and its passengers to shore. The skipper of a boat is responsible for safety and all of his passengers, even if he is not the boat owner.
- Non alcoholic drinks on board
Drink enough water to avoid dehydration. The responsible skipper must not drink alcohol. Moderation and good sense are the keys to a safe and enjoyable boating experience for all. Longer boating trips, exposure to noise, sun, glare and wind can produce a human fatigue and dehydration condition that can affect your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time and can increase your risk of an accident.
- Caution near swimmers and water skiers
Waves and sun reflections can hide swimmers, divers, in the water. Slow down speed and cruise the boat in a short-term.
- Boating party
You’ll all have a better time if others are encouraged in your party and everybody follows the safety procedures. Don’t exceed the load limit even if the boat is anchoring. Your invitation should include to use tennis shoes for grip on deck and carry any kind of coat in case of low temperature.
- Help others
If you locate distress signals do not hesitate to help. If someone is in trouble in the water, use elementary rescue methods first, such as throwing something that floats to the victim. Only as a least resort should you ever enter the water to save someone. Even then, take a buoyand object with you. As a boater you are obligated to render assistance to someone in distress. First aid trainings are offered by American Red Cross, National Safety Council and other local agencies.