Have you experienced getting on a boat and feeling the cool breeze on your face, as well as the heat of the sun on your skin and the wind messing up your hair in all directions? Truly this can be a fun and exciting experience to do with friends or with family especially if you need a quick break from work, but it is also important to take note that there are dangers involved if you fail to take all the necessary precautionary measures for safety.
According to Statista, boating accidents in 2021 resulted in the death of 658 and injuries to 2,641 individuals in the United States. The statistics have decreased by roughly more than 1,500 over the last 16 years. There was also a notable decline in the number of deaths and injuries attributed to boating accidents compared to the statistics in 2020.
Accidents and injuries occurring on the water can be prevented if you have the right knowledge and preparation. Keep on reading as we will be discussing the importance of boat safety and how you and your loved ones can stay safe while you enjoy the water and experience what boating has to offer.
What are the Benefits of Following Boating Safety Guidelines?
When safety guidelines are followed, there are lesser chances of accidents, injuries, and fatalities for everyone onboard a boat. A very basic detail that could most likely be ignored by someone who already knows how to swim is the presence of personal flotation devices.
The person operating the boat also needs to have proper training and licensing. This way, you are confident that your captain will be following recommended speeds and operating guidelines, keeping you safe from collisions and capsizing. Most importantly, he or she must never operate while under the influence of alcohol or drugs as we do not want someone with impaired judgment driving our boat.
Before you sail or schedule your trip, keep in mind that weather conditions can be a factor in how your boat navigates on the water. Never take chances when storms are coming.
As with any type of vessel, regular inspection and maintenance of the engine, steering, and other systems will keep your boat in top shape and prevent failures and accidents while you navigate the waters. As you navigate, proper navigation equipment and techniques, together with effective communication with other boats in the water will ensure you keep a safe distance from them.
Reduction of Water Related Casualties
Drowning is perhaps the number one cause of water-related fatalities, but this is something that can be easily prevented. Generally, it is recommended that a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) has to be worn at all times while you are on a boat, regardless if the law requires you or not. This is very vital if you are not a strong swimmer, the water is too cold, or you are boating in rough conditions. The odds of survival in the event of an accident are greatly increased.
Boats like cars, also need to follow speed limits and other regulations to avoid collisions with other boats or any other objects in the water. You can also designate a passenger or a member of a crew to scan the water for any potential hazards or other boats that might be navigating too close to your vessel. A map, chart, GPS, and other navigation tools will come in handy. When navigating at night, ensure that your boat has proper lighting so that it stays visible for other boats to see.
Lessen the Chance of Damage or Loss to Property
When you talk about boating safety, you do not only protect people who are on the boat or the water, you also need to think about protecting your property - the boat and the environment surrounding your boat. This means you have to think about the other boats in your surrounding, the docks, and the marine environment.
With proper docking and anchoring, you can avoid collisions with docks, other boats, or underwater obstacles, which can cause huge damage to the vessel and surrounding property. Using the right fenders and bumpers will minimize risk when docking or mooring.
Knowing how to properly dispose of trash and waste can also help in minimizing damage to the environment caused by pollution. Oil spills or chemical leaks will also be avoided. The coral reefs or seagrass beds, which are very sensitive areas, will be protected from damage if boaters avoid anchoring on them.
Avoid Legal Troubles
When you know and follow the local laws, as they vary from palace to place, you steer away from legal troubles. Ensuring that you have all required safety equipment on board like marine flotation devices, fire extinguishers, distress signals, and navigation lights as well as knowing how to use them properly will not only keep you safe but also free your mind from worrying about legal issues.
There are also serious legal consequences when boating under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. This is because accidents like collisions or passengers falling overboard may happen.
Creates an Enjoyable Experience
Boating offers you a unique opportunity of enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings while appreciating the company of those you are with. When you have planned and followed safety guidelines, you can have an enjoyable experience while also keeping in mind the local wildlife and ecosystems.
You will have a more enjoyable and stress-free time in the water, whether you are fishing, water skiing or just cruising. Stopping at scenic locations or finding the best swimming spots could add to your overall experience and give you a memorable outing.
What Do You Need to Know Before Boating?
Prioritizing safety and preparing before you head out to the water is a must regardless if you are an experienced boater or an amateur. Here are the things that you need to know before you get on that boat.
Do You Have a Place For Storing Your Boat
Deciding where you will store your boat can have an impact on the overall condition and lifespan of your boat. You will have several options. If you plan to use it frequently, a marina or dock storage is convenient. It provides easy access to the water. For boat owners who are keen on protecting their boats from the elements, there are dry storage facilities. It can have indoor and outdoor options
For boat owners who have enough space on their property, storing in their personal property is the most cost-effective option. They can put it in the garage, carport, or any covered area. If you have a trailer, you can store your boat on the trailer on your property or in a storage yard.
Is The Boat Insured
Boat insurance protects you from financial loss in case of an unfortunate event or theft. It is recommended to get good liability coverage in case you cause any injury to an individual or damage property while operating your boat. A proper understanding of any exclusions or deductibles on your physical damage coverage will also let you know if there are specific things that your insurance does not cover and what amount you might need to pay before your insurance pays the rest of the amount.
Also, get information on the actual value of the boat in case of a total loss or what would be referred to as the actual cash value policy. This will be the current market value of the boat at the time of loss. There may also be restrictions in terms of navigational limits. Once you know this, you will know where you can go and what activities you can do with your boat.
Figure Out How to Trailer Your Boat Like a Pro
Being able to trail your boat like a pro is a convenient way to take it to different bodies of water for boating and storing it when it is not in use. You will need a towing vehicle that is rated to tow whatever the weight of both your boat and trailer, with a hitch and wiring that are in good condition.
When loading your boat into the trailer, ensure that it is balanced and properly secured. Make sure of tie-down straps or chains. Secure your boat cover too. Your trailer needs to be in good condition, with properly inflated tires, good brakes, and working lights.
As you attach your vehicle to the trailer, do it carefully and secure the safety chains, and double-check if the electrical connection is properly working. Before heading out, ensure that your trailer lights are working properly, including the brake lights and turn signals.
Remember to always keep a safe stopping distance while you are driving as it is more difficult to maneuver a trailer compared to regular vehicles. As you arrive at your destination, make sure the boat is already floating freely before backing the trailer out of the water. When you are ready to leave, carefully back your trainer into the water until your boat is properly positioned on it then begin securing the boat before you drive it out of the water.
Basic Maintenance Requirements
As a boat owner, you need to keep your boat in tip-top shape by performing regular hull maintenance. Keep it free from marine growth such as barnacles, algae, or seaweed. Inspect for any damage and make necessary repairs. Keep the bilge clean and dry and make sure the bilge pump is properly functioning. The engine's oil, coolant, and other fluids must also be checked regularly. Replace worn or damaged engine parts and keep them free of any debris.
The battery and charging system will also require maintenance. Inspect wiring for damage and wear, and ensure that your lights and electronics are functioning. All safety equipment must also be in good condition and readily accessible.
Proper winter storage must also be done. This will include draining water from your engine, removing batteries, and protecting your boat from the elements. It is always good to invest in winterizing equipment for your boat.
Create Your Pre-Departure Checklist
Having your pre-departure checklist will make it easier for you to remember all the essentials that you need to check on. The items on your list will depend on the type of vessel, duration, and distance of your trip and any law and regulations covering your area.
Some of the things that you could include in your checklist are:
- Check the weather forecast
- Ensure that you have all the necessary safety equipment on board, including life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip and that the engine is in good working condition.
- Check that all navigational equipment, such as charts, compass, and GPS, are on board and functioning properly.
- Test all electronic equipment, such as radios and depth finders, to ensure they are in good working order.
- Confirm that all lights, including navigation and anchor lights, are working properly.
- Check the bilge and make sure the bilge pump is functioning properly.
- Inspect all lines and rigging to ensure they are in good condition and properly secured.
- Check that all seacocks and valves are closed and that the boat is not taking on water.
- Make sure you have enough food, water, and other supplies for your trip, as well as any necessary documentation, such as a boating license or registration.
When we discuss boating safety, a very important thing to consider is the use of personal floatation devices. They are designed to keep you afloat in the water in case of emergency. Most boating accidents could be prevented if the people involved were wearing PFDs. According to a report from the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2021, 81% of boating fatalities were due to drowning and 83% were not wearing PFDs.
What is a Personal Flotation Device?
A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is commonly known as a life jacket or life vest. PFDs are vital safety gear that anyone engaging in water activities like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or boating should wear, especially in scenarios where drowning is a possibility.
It works by providing buoyancy to keep a person’s head above the water. They are usually made from buoyant materials like styrofoam and may have inflatable chambers which are activated by pulling a cord. Some PFDs have additional features like reflectorized material, whistles, and lights to provide visibility in the water.
When choosing which personal flotation device to use, you must select the correct type, and size, and one that is fitting properly. There are also different types of personal flotation devices to select depending on the type of activity you will engage in. They are generally categorized into three types: offshore, nearshore, and flotation aid. Offshore PFDs are designed for use in rough waters, while nearshore PFDs are intended for use in calm waters near the shore. Flotation aids are primarily used for water sports such as water skiing, where the wearer is conscious and able to swim, but may need some assistance staying afloat.
What is The Advantage of Personal Flotation Devices?
PFDs can greatly increase your chances of surviving a water emergency. It is important to ensure that all passengers on your boat are also wearing PFDs and that they know how to properly use them in case of an emergency.
Wearing a PFD can give boaters and swimmers not only confidence but peace of mind as well and this lets them relax and enjoy the trip. It can also make the wearer more visible for rescue teams to see as the majority of PFDs are brightly colored and also have reflective materials.
If an individual is in cold water, the PFD can also help in preventing hypothermia by keeping the body heat close to their core.
What are the 5 types of personal flotation devices?
There are several types of personal flotation devices (PFDs) available, and they are typically categorized into five types based on their design and intended use. The five types of PFDs are:
Offshore Life Jacket
This type of PFD is designed to provide the highest level of buoyancy and is intended for use in open, rough, or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. Type I PFDs have a minimum buoyancy of 22 pounds for adults and can turn an unconscious wearer face up in the water.
Nearshore Buoyant Vest
This type of PFD is designed for use in calm or inland waters where rescue is expected to be quick. Type II PFDs have a minimum buoyancy of 15.5 pounds for adults and may not turn an unconscious wearer face upward in the water.
This type of PFD is designed for activities such as water sports, where the wearer is likely to be conscious and able to swim but may need assistance staying afloat. Type III PFDs provide a buoyancy of at least 15.5 pounds for adults and are designed to be comfortable and flexible for ease of movement.
This type of PFD is not intended to be worn but instead is thrown to a person in the water to provide buoyancy and keep them afloat. Type IV devices include ring buoys, cushions, and horseshoe buoys.
This type of PFD is the type that is thrown at someone who is already in the water. It is not intended to be worn. It provides buoyancy and keeps a person afloat while on the water. Type IV devices include ring buoys, cushions, and horseshoe buoys.
Special Use Device
This type of PFD is designed for specific activities, such as kayaking or windsurfing. Type V PFDs have specific performance requirements and must be used in accordance with their labeled use and instructions.
It's important to choose the right type of PFD for your activity and to make sure that it is properly fitted and in good condition before using it. Also remember, that PFDs are not a substitute for proper boating safety practices, and should be used in conjunction with other safety equipment and measures. It is also essential to double-check that the PFD is properly fitted and in good condition before using it.
Boat safety is of utmost importance for anybody who wants to venture out into the water. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) play a key role in boat safety and greatly reduce the risk of drowning during an emergency. By selecting the right flotation device for your activity, ensuring that you wear it at all times while you are on the water and that it is properly fitted and in good condition, you will have peace of mind from knowing that you have taken the steps for staying safe.
Accidents can happen anytime and being prepared can make all the difference. So, whether you are planning to go out fishing or just going on a leisurely cruise, make sure that you have followed all the necessary precautions and have all the proper equipment on board. With the right mindset and equipment, you can have a safe and enjoyable time on the water.