There are few activities more enjoyable than boating on a warm, sunny day. But an inexperienced, unprepared, or irresponsible driver can turn a pleasant day on the water into a nightmare.
Follow these tips and basic guidelines for boat safety to help ensure that everyone has a safe, fun time on the water.
- Regularly Maintain and Inspect Your Boat
Boat safety begins before you even leave the shore. Before going out on the water, check your boat to ensure there are no fuel leaks and the following components are working properly:
- switches and cables
- fuel and battery lines
Also, it’s essential to properly winterize your boat at the end of the boating season, and conduct an extensive inspection before taking it out for the first time each year.
- Provide All Passengers with Life Jackets
Your boat should carry a life jacket for every passenger. Keep life jackets within easy reach in accessible areas. Don’t store them in sealed packages or in locked or closed storage areas. Life jackets should be inspected often to ensure they don’t have rips, tears, or other defects. In addition, Ohio law requires children under age 10 always wear life jackets on any vessel shorter than 18 feet and whenever riding a personal watercraft or waterskiing.
- Be Aware of Weather Forecasts
Severe thunderstorms can form rapidly and turn clear days into dangerous situations. Often, when you see fast-moving, dark clouds headed your way, it’s too late to get safely back to shore. Always check weather forecasts before departing the dock and be aware of the potential for severe weather.
- Dress Appropriately for Cold Weather
Exposure to water colder than 50 degrees can be deadly in as little as one hour. If you’re exposed to water at dangerously low temperatures, you can increase your chances of survival and prevent conditions such as hypothermia by dressing in warm layers. Base layers should include insulating fabrics such as polypropylene. Avoid 100 percent cotton garments.
- Don’t Drink and Boat
As with driving a car, alcohol impairs your ability to safely operate a boat. Alcohol consumption also causes dehydration, a condition exacerbated by being out in the sun all day. Alcohol consumption also can lead to a loss of balance which, combined with the rocking of a boat, can increase the chances of falling overboard.
- Watch Your Boat’s Weight
Overloading a boat can increase its chances of capsizing. It’s also important to ensure the boat’s weight is evenly distributed. Always secure your anchor to the bow (front) of the boat—never to the back, or stern. To avoid falling overboard, refrain from standing up and moving around the boat while it’s moving, especially at fast speeds.
- Know and Follow Traffic Guidelines
When operating a personal watercraft, remember that larger vessels such as sailboats, commercial boats, and fishing boats always have the right of way. Always stay to the right when approaching an oncoming boat. When crossing paths with another boat, always yield to the boat on the right.
Following these basic safety tips and guidelines can help decrease the chances of being involved in a serious boating accident. Unfortunately, not every boater is mindful of boating safety.
If you are hurt in a boat accident, the Ohio boat accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy can help. Give us a call at (888) 900-6075, or fill out our free initial consultation form. We’ll take care of all of the legal details surrounding your case so that you can focus on moving forward with your life.