As the summer approaches, many Floridians and those vacationing in Florida, are dreaming about going out on the water and making the most of it. Warm weather is particularly ideal for those who want to explore our blue waters. If you are planning to go boating this summer, and want to have a fun and memorable adventure, please don’t forget the safety factor. Mentioned below are some of the most important safety tips you should remember when planning a summer boating trip:
Before Heading to Water
Consider these safety factors thoroughly, even before you head into the water:
- Take a course in boating safety
Make sure that you know exactly what you are doing before heading out onto the water. Before planning your boating trip, we highly recommend you take a course in boating safety. Per Florida law, you are required to take a course in boating safety, if you are 21 years or younger. But, even if you are over 21, we recommend you take a boating safety course for your own safety and the safety of others onboard.
- Get your boat checked out
Before heading out, you should have your boat inspected. And good news… you can get info about a free Vessel Safety Check performed by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, check online at: http://cgaux.org/vsc/
- Prepare a pre-departure checklist and adhere to that
With a properly prepared pre-departure checklist, you may not have all the safety equipment and other essentials onboard that you and your passengers will require. Items like life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, sound signals, ventilation and backfire flame control are boating safety must-haves. Other considerations include first aid kits, bailing devices, and a host of other items, depending on if you intend on staying on inland waters, river waters or heading offshore. Organizations like the American Boating and Yacht Council (ABYC,) as well as many other online resources, have great examples of boating safety checklists you can look to and utilize.
- Consider Newer Technology that can Save Lives
There are many companies who design and manufacture emergency survival devices such
as an EPIRBS (Emergency Position indicating radio beacon) which can send out distress signals that rescuers can use to pinpoint your location in the event of an emergency.
- Prepare a float plan and give it to a relative or a friend
Make sure that you prepare a float plan and give it to one of your family members or friends. This float plan should be comprised of details like your whereabouts, for how long you will be boating, the itinerary, as well as contact details during the trip.
When you ae on the water
- Lifejacket is mandatory
This doesn’t just mean that you should have lifejackets onboard. Instead, you must check if the jackets are in proper condition and they don’t have any defects. Per statistics, a considerable number of boating fatalities are caused due to drowning (source: commanderbob.com.)
- Do not consume alcohol when you are onboard
A large number of boat-related accidents involve alcohol. The truth is that alcohol reduces your reaction time substantially and impairs balance. Moreover, boating while impaired is illegal, which can result in costly fines and criminal penalties as well.
- Precise judgement is important
Make sure that you stay alert at all times. Make sure that you stay out of the path of larger vessels and maintain a safe speed limit. If the weather is not-so-good, get off the water at your earliest opportunity. In a nutshell, common sense is a must!