6 Easy Tips to Prevent Boating Accidents
You worry a lot about driving—about traffic, about other drivers, and about making sure you follow all traffic laws. But there is something about boats that just seems…safer. After all, you hop in your boat on a beautiful day under a sunny sky. It’s quiet, and you hear the faint sounds of people having fun on other boats and at their camps. You only see a few people here and there on the water, gliding along on their boats. Without any further thought, you load up your boat with beer and head out with friends and family.
But did you know, for example, that BUI—yes, Boating Under the Influence—is just as strictly enforced on the water as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is enforced on the roads? That means you might pay expensive fines or even go to jail.
Even if you think you won’t get caught, boating under the influence threaten the lives and well-being of your family, children, friends, and other people who share the water with you.
Consider the following tips to help keep you and other people safe on the water:
Do not drink and drive on a boat. We already know that drinking makes it more likely that you’ll hurt or kill someone while driving a car. The same is true in a boat. What if you don’t see a smaller boat or other people swimming in the water? It only takes a second to make a serious mistake behind the wheel of a boat. Stay sober when driving a boat. Consider a designated driver if you or your friends plan to drink.
Have everyone wear lifejackets. The U.S. government reports that 84% of fatal drowning victims in boating accidents during 2014 were not wearing lifejackets. A lifejacket is one of the easiest, simplest ways to save lives on the water—similar to wearing seat belts in a car. Drinking reduces a person’s ability to swim, so lifejackets have a high chance of saving a life—although everyone should wear them, drinking or not.
Be extra careful when operating a small boat. If you’re in a canoe, kayak, or small motorboat, be careful of bigger boats and of tipping over. It’s much easier to fall out of a smaller boat because of fast currents, waves caused by a bigger boat, or a bigger boat hitting you because they cannot see you or stop in time.
Pay constant attention to your surroundings. While the water can seem like a much more peaceful place than a road, things change quickly on the water. New boats appear, the shore approaches rapidly, and dangerous obstacles like rocks, shallows, and fast currents can endanger your boat in a matter of seconds.
Don’t speed. Just like driving a car, speeding in a boat increases your risk of crashing into another boat or swimmer and it lessens the amount of time you have to stop in case of a dangerous obstacle in your way. Stopping or redirecting a boat can be more difficult than stopping or slowing a car, in many instances.
Take a course about boat safety. You will learn more about how to operate your boat, how to protect people who ride in your boat, and how to follow basic boating rules and regulations.
Like operating a car, driving a boat takes a lot of responsibility—to protect you, your passengers, and other people on the water. Following these basic boating safety tips will keep your summer fun and safe. Reach out to us for a free consultation if you are involved in a boating accident.