EASTON — Boating provides a “second home” for many. Enjoying times of fun and relaxation on the water is something we all look forward to as summer arrives. To experience it fully, boater safety is everyone’s responsibility and being prepared is the key.
Here are some great tips for boater safety:
First Tip — Boat owners must have state and federally mandated safety gear to ensure basic safety standards are met. If you purchase a new boat, chances are the safety equipment may simply meet the minimum safety standards. Gear exceeding the basic level of boater safety is recommended and there are magazines and blogs devoted to the latest and best safety products.
Second Tip — Operator inattention is one of the most dangerous causes of boat accidents. Resist the urge to swipe through Instagram or read a book while operating your boat. Be constantly prepared for the unexpected!
Third Tip — Fires pose a significant hazard for boat owners. Avoid electrical fires by regularly inspecting/replacing damaged wiring harnesses. Be sure you correctly install your battery cables. (Photograph the original battery setup so you can reconnect property and label the positive lug.)
Electrical overloads cause many boat fires as most fires start near the shore power inlet. Replace your shore power connector if it appears worn, using marine-grade power cords with correct adaptors. Frequently inspect all electrical components and appliances.
Don’t forget to check the outboard engine regulator, as faulty voltage regulators cause fires in older engines. Watch for signs of engine overheating. A clogged cooling water intake can lead to overheating and fire. Inspect your engine compartment shortly after taking off and replace your impeller every other year or if you ground your boat.
Fueling poses a serious risk of fire due to fumes and risk of sparks igniting. If you allow someone else to operate your boat, be sure to walk him/her through the safe way to “gas up.”
Check the size and number of Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers needed. Be sure they are up to date, mountings are not loose, and they are readily accessible to all passengers. And, of course, obtain life vests equal to the number of passengers.
Fourth Tip — Remain alert to your surroundings. Be aware of other boaters coming too close or creating dangerous wakes. (Also, surprisingly over 25% of boating fires are started by being near something else on fire-a neighboring boat or a fire in the marina).
Fifth Tip — Every boat needs sound-producing devices and visual distress signals. Check these regularly to ensure they work. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit and a tool kit that includes extra fuses, spark plugs, bulbs, electrical tape, and a good flashlight. Don’t leave the dock without spare anchor, tow ropes, extra gas can, hand bilge pump, and paddles/oars.
Sixth Tip — Prior to leaving the dock, explain safety procedures to your passengers including a “person overboard” drill and the usage of fire extinguishers, flares, and life vests. Ensure everyone knows how to make an emergency radio call on your VHF radio. Walk everyone aboard through the “abandon ship” process. Lastly, leave a trip plan with a responsible family member or friend.
Seventh Tip — Behaving responsibly (not drinking while operating a boat) is imperative. In 2019, 100 people died due to alcohol consumption while boating. If drinking is part of the trip, have a qualified non-drinking boat operator. And reject the temptation to use excessive speed- an accident waiting to happen.
Let this summer be your best yet! Practicing continual safety procedures can ensure many years of safe, enjoyable time cruising our scenic waterways.
For important FREE Resources including a pre-departure checklist and boating safety tips visit www.reenwaterman.com and click on Resources.