Humans are land mammals, but we sure love our time in the water. People will go to great lengths to travel to cool northern lakes in the summer, and hot southern beaches in winter. A vacation just isn’t the same without spending time in the water.
Boating provides fun and exhilarating sport, and it can be a relaxing hobby. Whether you’re speeding along with the surf slapping wildly at the helm, or floating lazily on an inflatable raft, the water provides a beautiful and fascinating place to set yourself free. Water can be fun, and relaxing, but it also commands your utmost respect. Water sports can be extremely dangerous, and practicing boat safety is paramount.
Wear a Floatation Device
A personal floatation device (PFD) is an absolute must for all boaters. Every boater should expect the unexpected and be prepared. Weather is completely unpredictable, and a fast-moving storm can turn the waters from calm to calamity in an instant. Other boats and unseen hazards can bring about a collision or cause you to capsize. Even the most experienced boaters face unexpected dangers on the water. That’s why everyone on the boat, including the boat operator, must wear a personal floatation device. This is especially important for young children, as they are at most risk of injury or drowning. It’s not only smart to wear a PFD, it’s the law in many places.
Learn About Safety
A boating safety course is not just for the novice; experienced boaters can benefit from this training as well. There is likely a free boating safety course available in your area, and lessons can be completed in just a couple of days. Enroll in the course and sign your entire family up as well. A person is never too young (or too old) to learn to respect the water. The Internet is a great resource for finding information about boating programs, so if you’re having trouble finding a safety course near you, check online for information.
Just Say No
Operating watercraft takes keen sense and, sometimes, rapid reflexes. Using drugs or alcohol will impair your judgment and slow your reflexes. Even prescription drugs can take a dangerous toll on your boat safety. In most areas, the impairment laws imposed upon automobile drivers affect watercraft drivers in the same capacity. Your craft and someone’s life can be at stake if you use alcohol or drugs on the water.
Be Surf Smart
Boat safety is based on sensibility. Know your limits, and make sure you’re able to make smart, split-second decisions. Know what to do if another boat suddenly veers toward you, or if your buddy bails off of his water skis and slips from your line of sight. When you’re on the water, you may be called upon to make sound judgment calls. Understand your options in any given situation, and know how to take the best ones.
Respect on the water is just as important as respect on the highway. Be aware of other boaters and respect their rights to share the water. Other boaters need to be able to see you in the blinding sun of daytime and the deep dark night. Keep within the water speed limit. Follow the rules of the waterway. Respect your passengers and your own safety, as well. No one is impressed when you show off and take risks.
Maintain Your Boat
Boat safety begins with the boat, so make sure that yours is in proper working condition. Check your craft often, and make sure that all components are in working order and meet boat safety requirements. Keeping a maintenance record of your boat is just as important as keeping one for your car. Take your boat and motor for regular maintenance, and learn how to perform emergency maintenance in the event of an accident or breakdown on the water.
Boating can mean anything from a fun kayaking trip, to an exhilarating afternoon of extreme water skiing, to a relaxing afternoon of fishing. However you choose to spend your time on the water, just remember to make boat safety your first priority.