The Water Sports Foundation recommends the following tips to maximize boating fun and safety:
1. IMPORTANT BASICS: PLAN AHEAD & BE PREPARED
- Boaters should conduct a thorough inspection of their vessel and trailer to ensure everything is in working order. Check with the local Coast Guard auxiliary or Power Squadron for free vessel safety checks.
- Conduct a pre-departure check to make sure all required safety equipment is secured on board and operational.
- Top on the list: ensure life jackets are available and properly fit for weight and size for every passenger, especially youngsters. Life jackets save lives!
- Check weather conditions and plan accordingly. Be prepared to find shelter or return home if inclement weather is approaching.
- Never overload your boat. Check the capacity plate and follow all weight mandates.
- If you are operating a boat 26′ or smaller, make sure to comply with the new federal law requiring boat operators to wear and engage ECOS: Emergency Cut-Off Switch. Worn by the captain, this safety lanyard will shut off the engine immediately in the case of an overboard fall.
- Make sure VHF radios, phones and EPIRB transponders work. Consider carrying a portable cell phone battery charger as back-up.
- Pack sunscreen, first-aid kit and a basic toolkit.
2. FILE A FLOAT PLAN
- Create a simple document that includes the names and contact information of all those aboard the boat, along with planned destinations, expected departure and return times.
- Leave the plan with marina personnel and/or responsible emergency contacts.
3. PRE-DEPARTURE COMMUNICATIONS
- An important and often overlooked boater safety strategy: the captain should always gather the crew prior to departure to fully review safe boating protocols and practices.
- This may include instructions for passengers to remain seated when the boat is underway; to keep arms and legs within the vessel; to wear life jackets; and to review pre-appointed assignments such designated observers during watersports activities, etc.
To access all six boating safety tips, social media post and accompanying photo/graphic, click: https://www.watersportsfoundation.com/boating-safety-tips-fourth-of-july/