Boating season is officially here. Are you in for some smooth sailing?
Before you launch your boat, refresh your memory. Take a look at these 13 boating safety tips:
- Make sure your boat’s registration is up to date. Bring your most recent registration card or form aboard.
- Pay close attention to the weather forecast. Being weather wise is one of the most important safety skills a boater can have. Before you depart, check your local weather conditions to make sure it makes sense to be on the water. Then, keep an eye on the skies, winds and temperature. If you notice sudden changes, head back to shore.
- Share your float plan. Give at least one person your travel itinerary — including where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone.
- Carry a life jacket for everyone on board. All passengers should have easy access to a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Have a throwable flotation device immediately available. Whether it’s a floating seat cushion or a floating ring, always have something you could throw to someone who’s fallen into the water.
- Test your horn. In order to communicate with other boats and send danger signals, make sure your boat’s horn can be heard.
- Designate an assistant skipper, or a first mate. More than one person on board should be familiar with the boat, just in case they need to get everyone safely back to shore.
- Keep your navigation lights on from sunset to sunrise. If you’re traveling at night, it’s important to ensure all other boats will be able to see you.
- Don’t overload your boat. Only carry the amount of passengers and/or cargo that your boat can handle.
- Keep an emergency kit on board. Stay safe by having charts, flares, fire extinguishers and a first aid kit on the boat at all times.
- Listen for the carbon monoxide alarm. If there’s a buildup of toxic fumes from the engine, a carbon monoxide alarm will sound so you can take action.
- Shut off the engine when you approach swimmers. To reduce the risk of propeller injuries, turn off the boat’s engine and keep swimmers in view — always on the operator’s side of the boat.
- Address the way you dress. Consider appropriate boating shoes, waterproof clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Launching your boat for the first time this year? Get your boat out of storage with our spring checklist.