Must-Know Tips to Prevent Boating Accidents
The warmer temperatures and more stable weather make summer the ideal time to get on the water. One of the most popular activities people do is boating. However, like fall is the season with most car accidents, summer is the time for boating accidents. Or rather, the time to be extra wary of and work harder to prevent boating accidents. Let’s list some of the most must-know tips, ideas, and strategies to ensure your and your passenger’s safety.
Take a safety course if it’s your first time
The most common cause of boating accidents is human error. Mistakes and omissions usually come from a lack of knowledge or information regarding properly achieving a task. That is why, if this is your first time boating, you should invest some time and money into a licensed boating and boating safety course before you go out on the water. If you have boating experience but haven’t done it in a while, these courses can also be a great way to remind yourself of some basics.
These courses are usually well-structured and relatively short. They cover the essential basics, such as:
- Boat handling and navigation
- Reading the weather
- Safety precautions
- Using an emergency radio, etc.
That is a tip that you must follow for two main reasons. Firstly, just like when riding a car, you can be fined or penalized for speeding on the water. So aside from your health and safety, following the speed limit also helps you avoid legal trouble. Secondly, boating is a lot more unpredictable than driving. Since there are no lanes, people can go in any direction. It’s a lot more challenging to avoid hitting someone or getting hit.
Pro tip – Aside from following the speed limit, you should also take extra care when taking turns or curves to prevent boating accidents.
Abstain from drinking
Firstly, we should draw your attention to the fact that drinking and boating are illegal. However, this shouldn’t be the only reason you abstain while boating; if you use alcohol while on a boat, you’re risking the safety of yourself and everyone involved. About a third of all boating accidents involve the use of alcohol as one of the primary causes. Keep in mind that this is different from driving on the road. Having a designated sober friend steering isn’t enough. The boat is still somewhat dangerous. Other than capsizing, drinking on a boat commonly results in someone not steering falling overboard.
Follow the weather forecast
Check the weather forecast before going out on the water. Depending on your climate, summertime might bring unpredictable changes to the weather. A warm sunny day on land might turn into a windstorm on the water. You should do two main things to protect yourself from weather-related accidents. Firstly, you should follow the weather forecast in advance to notice trends. And secondly, you should look for signs of a storm coming while you’re on the water. For example, look out for increased wind and choppy waters.
Acquire all of the necessary safety equipment beforehand
Before going out on the water, certain pieces of safety equipment can help you prevent boating accidents that you have to acquire. A list of the bare minimum items you should have on your boatfollows. However, you can add anything you think could be helpful in a given situation:
- An anchor,
- Sound-producing device (ex., a whistle, horn, or siren),
- Navigation lights,
- Fire extinguisher,
- A first-aid kit,
- A well-fitted life jacket for every person on board.
If you have all of this equipment but don’t want it to just sit on the boat even when you’re not using it, experts from Professional Movers Canada recommend finding and renting out a storage unit where you can safely keep your safety items to avoid deterioration during the off-season.
Boat insurance is worth it
Even if you’re following all of these tips and exercising great caution, accidents are called accidents for a reason. They can still happen. Getting boating insurance is a great way to protect yourself financially and legally if something goes wrong. Because boating is associated with carefree fun, lots of people don’t even realize that boating insurance can be just as (if not more) important and beneficial as having moving insurance or car insurance. It can protect you from damage to your boat, liability in an accident with another boating vessel, or injury to a passenger.
Check your boat’s capacity
Remember to check your boat’s capacity restrictions and follow them. If you put too much weight on it (whether through equipment or the number of passengers), you’re putting everyone at risk. Your boat could lose balance and capsize.
Inspect your boat before going out on the water
Likely the most crucial thing you should do before going out on the water to prevent boating accidents is to ensure that your vessel is in working order. You can either get a professional inspection or create your checklist. Although, you need some experience with the second option. Neglecting to do this can put you and everyone on your boat in danger.
Additionally, there are certain situations where it’s essential to be more thorough. Let’s go through some examples.
You recently bought a new boat
If your boat has never been on the water, you must take extra care when inspecting it. Many people assume that just because something is brand new, there are no faults with it. However, the fact that you don’t have experience with that boat makes it all the more important to check for any production errors.
You recently moved to a new area with your boat
You should check if any peripheral items (ex., the safety items we mentioned earlier) were damaged while you were moving them. That is especially important if you are relocating by yourself. Specialitems require special care when moving, so it’s best to leave it to the pros in most cases. You were fortunate if nothing was damaged while you were moving those things by yourself, but in the future, it’s always wiser to hire professional movers for this type of thing.
You haven’t used it in a long time
If you haven’t taken your boat out for a ride in years, chances are some of the materials have deteriorated, and a certain amount of damage has accrued over time.
Accidents can happen anywhere. You will be surprised by the number of annual swimming pool accidents. However, some of the most serious ones can be boating accidents. But by following the basic tips in this article, you can effectively maximize your ability to prevent boating accidents and ensure a boating experience that’s fun and safe.