9 Boating Safety Tips to Know This Summer

by NPHM | July 2nd, 2019

Especially during the colder months, we have focused quite a bit on the risks associated with driving in less-than-ideal conditions and the ways to avoid injury while doing so. Although it is still important to drive defensively when the sun is out, lots of Clevelanders who live on or around the lake are now heading out on the water in order to enjoy the warmth of summer; as such, even when the roads get safer, it is essential that this whole new category of safety and risk factors are considered. In the interest of being safe while enjoying all that Erie has to offer, here are nine boating safety tips to keep in mind when out on the waves.

  1. Make space for the unexpected

One of the main differences between boating and driving is that almost everyone behind the wheel has far more experience in a car than on a boat. As such, it is hard to expect that anyone would have boating instincts to match their driving instincts – this means that boating safely necessitates a constant active awareness of one’s surroundings. Just because there seems to be more open space on the water than on the roads does not mean that there aren’t risk factors when driving a boat that must be considered!

  1. Don’t risk it on rough days

The fact that you have almost definitely spent more time driving than boating means that you should probably be even more selective about when you decide to go out on the water. Needless to say, the water (unlike the road) also becomes much choppier when the wind picks up, so it is essential that a safe boater doesn’t set out onto the lake when the waves are bigger than their boat can handle. Know the boat that you’re in and the limits of what it can take – a speedboat and a yacht have very different capabilities that absolutely must be respected in order to ensure that the waves don’t cause the boat to take on water. 

  1. Always keep your eyes forward

While roads tend to intersect each other at 90-degree angles (and if not, are at least visible to all drivers), boaters can travel across the water in any direction they please. With this in mind, one of the most important tips for safe boating is to know what lies ahead of you at all times; you should always be aware of any other boats that might intersect your path so that you can slow down or divert your course as to avoid a collision of any kind.

  1. Look out for the wake

Even if it is clear that a boat is going to intersect your path long before you get to them, it is essential to remember that boats (especially bigger ones) can leave a significant wake in their path which is essentially a larger-than-average wave you must cross. Especially in a smaller vessel, safe boating means knowing that you might be better off simply avoiding the course of a large ship or at least waiting until the wake thins out a bit before proceeding forward.

  1. Stay out of shallow waters

While shallow waters are obviously safer for swimming, many boats are not intended to be taken in towards the beach as it can risk running them into a rock or the lake floor. In the interest of ensuring that your boat doesn’t take damage, do your best to keep a safe distance from shallower waters whenever possible. Although this may not seem like advice for boating safety at first, remember the importance of maintaining the structural integrity of your boat and do everything you can to avoid taking on water!

  1. Wear lifejackets at all times

Although wearing lifejackets really creates no downsides for those boating or swimming on the lake, lots of people still opt not to wear one. One of the easiest boating safety tips to follow is to simply wear the life jacket in case something goes wrong; even the best swimmers run the risk of being rendered incapable of treading water if they become injured, so mitigating the possibility of something serious happening is simply a no-brainer.

  1. Be on the lookout for swimmers and inner-tubers

While it is definitely important to keep your eyes peeled for any other boats in your vicinity, safe boating also means being aware of people on the water who aren’t protected by a watercraft. As such, the same precautions (plenty of space, right of way) that are extended to pedestrians on the road must also be awarded to people out on the water. In addition, when you see another boat, give them plenty of space as to ensure that you aren’t going to end up disturbing an inner-tuber or swimmer located in its vicinity.

  1. Stay off the water in bad weather

While the wind can definitely make any body of water choppier and more dangerous for any boater or swimmer, rain and/or thunder can make boating conditions equally as dangerous. Not being able to see out on the water can be a large hazard, and nasty conditions should be avoided as much as possible in order to ensure boating safety. Even if an exciting day of fishing, swimming, or boating seems to have been ruined by some unexpected bad weather, it is always a better idea to simply reschedule than to get out there and realize that you aren’t completely secure.  

  1. Wear sunglasses

Beyond just looking cool when on the beach or out on waves, wearing shades is actually another way to avoid potential danger out on the water. Spotting people and boats against the sun can be difficult, especially from a distance; knowing this, another good boating safety tip is to wear polarized sunglasses which will help to reduce the glare. If the sun is out and you’re planning to hit the water, be sure to bring your shades along to maximize visibility at all times.

Now that you have read over our advice on how to be a safe boater, you are ready to enjoy the lake this summer – above all else, be sure to always play it on the safe side, keep your speed in check, and maintain awareness at all times!

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a boating accident, call Nurenberg Paris for a free consultation; our experienced attorneys may be able to get you the compensation you deserve.