5 Tips for Staying Safe on Your Boat This Summer

Summer is a fantastic time for boating, but it’s essential to remember a few best practices before heading out on any type of watercraft. Boating accidents in Sacramento can cause severe injuries and even fatalities from drowning. Taking the time to prepare before every boating trip can help minimize the chances of serious injuries or fatalities. Consider the following tips for staying safe on your boat this summer and think about ways to improve the safety of your watercraft and boating outings.

      1. Prepare Yourself

Depending on where you live, you may need to complete a required boating safety course before setting out on the water. Do some research to determine your legal obligations before launching your boat. If you don’t have the appropriate license or fail to heed the legal requirements for boating in your area, you could face fines, driver’s license suspension, or other penalties.

It’s also important to have the necessary experience for traveling the waters. If you’ve only operated a boat in calm waters, navigating choppy waters may be very difficult for you. If you’re accustomed to small motorboats, you are probably ill-prepared to pilot a yacht.

      2. Prepare Your Vessel

Make sure your vessel has all necessary safety equipment onboard before every journey. You should have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket for yourself and every passenger on your vessel. It’s also important to make sure everyone’s lifejacket fits appropriately. Children should not wear adult-sized lifejackets because they can easily slip out of them or become tangled in the longer straps.

It’s also important to check your boat’s motor and other parts before outings. Check your fuel and make sure there are no signs of damage on the exterior of your boat before you launch. Additionally, make sure your boat has an operational fire extinguisher if required by state and local laws.

     3. Plan Each Trip

It’s important to know where you’re going before you get there, so do some research on the body of water you plan to visit for your boating trip. Take note of any policies regarding wakes, mooring, and docking fees. Make sure your boat has drinking water for all passengers, and consider packing snacks for longer trips.

     4. Avoid Boating Under the Influence

One of the leading causes of fatal boating accidents is alcohol use. Refrain from consuming any type of alcohol or illicit drugs before operating a boat. If you take prescription medications, consult with your prescribing doctor as to whether or not they will interfere with your ability to safely operate your boat. Alcohol can affect your reaction time, depth perception, and judgment and easily contribute to a boating accident.

Alcohol can also increase the chances of developing hypothermia if you fall into the water. Cold water can cause hypothermia very quickly and alcohol speeds up this process by thinning the blood. This makes it harder for the body to stay warm, and alcohol can also interfere with muscle coordination and movement, making drowning more likely.

     5. Know What to Do in an Emergency

Always have an action plan in case of an emergency. Make sure you have a method of calling for help, such as a cell phone, satellite phone, or radio in the event of an accident. If someone sustains an injury onboard, treat it as well as possible with whatever first aid supplies you have and then head for shore to seek professional medical attention. Most state laws require boat operators to report any accident that results in injury, death, or significant property damage, so be sure to contact the authorities about your boating accident as soon as possible.

Boating can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience with proper preparation and a few best practices. Keep these tips in mind for your next boating excursion and you can avoid serious injuries and costly damages.