Now that summer is officially here, many of us are looking forward to spending time on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2022 there were 5000 recreational boating accidents causing $63 million in property damage.
The U.S. Coast Guard and our partners at CHUBB outline several boating safety tips that we encourage you to review before pulling away from the dock.
- Life Jackets: Make sure everyone onboard has a properly fitting life jacket and that they wear it. No matter how skilled you are at swimming, not wearing a life jacket can be detrimental especially if there is an emergency. Life jackets help you float, keep your head above water and can protect against hypothermia should you be involved in a boating accident. In addition, you will want to make sure that you are using the right life jacket for the size boat you are on as well as have a throwable flotation device.
- Avoid Alcohol: Just as drinking and driving is dangerous so is drinking and boating. Sixteen percent of boating fatalities are caused by boaters who are under the influence, and nearly 40 percent of boating accidents are caused by those who have been drinking. Alcohol impairs your judgment. Staying alert while driving a boat is critical to your safety.
- Boating Safety Courses: Check your local area for a boating safety course. Navigating a boat is different from driving a car. Qualified volunteer organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron and others, sponsor many courses, and many state boating agencies also provide classes. You can receive a National Boating Safety Certificate by taking one of these courses.
- Cell Phones: Distracted boating is increasing because more and more drivers are texting or looking at their phones. Please put down your cell phone while driving and keep your eyes on your surroundings.
- Check the Weather Forecast: While on the water, it’s a good idea to keep a check on the weather forecast. A pop-up storm can unexpectedly occur. Also, have and review your boating storm safety plan and be ready to act. Make sure you have a workable radio onboard so you can use it in case of an emergency.
- Carbon Monoxide: Internal engines emit carbon monoxide, so you will want to be sure you have a detector onboard and that you are aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is undetectable to the human senses but is deadly. The symptoms can be similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication.
- File a Float Plan: It is always encouraged to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back when boating. If an emergency occurs, the Coast Guard or other officials will be able to find you.
- Free Boat Inspection: The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Boat Safety Checks at no cost. Certified examiners can check your boat’s equipment and provide you with safety information before you go out on the water.
It’s also a good idea to review your boat’s policy and coverage with one of our trusted advisors before hitting the water this summer. We wish you a summer filled with safe and happy boating!