Are you preparing properly before you go out on the water? Even the smallest of steps can make the biggest difference - even in a situation of life and death. Always remember the following before heading out for the day.
1) Have sufficient life jackets on board
We will always emphasize the importance of wearing a life jacket! Always be sure that each passenger is wearing or has access to (if 16 or older) a life jacket in case of an emergency. This should be your #1 priority before you take off!
2) Follow the stated weight capacity of your boat
Federal law requires all boats under 25 feet to state its weight capacity for safe boating. It might sound fun for you and all of your friends to pile in a boat, but you must follow the stated weight capacity of that specific watercraft. If you choose not to do so, you will put all passengers' lives at risk on board. The boat will likely be swamped waves from other boats.
3) Have a float plan
A float plan is a detailed outline of where you will be on your trip given to someone reliable back on shore. When someone knows your boating routes and locations, help is able to reach you much quicker if there is an emergency.
4) Boat sober
Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. This fact alone should encourage you to boat responsibly. Even if you aren’t operating the boat, intoxication can cause passengers to put their lives at risk. Responsible boating is safe boating!
5) Check the forecast
This step is quick and simple - probably will take you a minute or less to do! Like we’ve talked about before, the last thing you want is to get caught in a storm. Look at the forecast before you go out and check in with local weather radio stations to stay updated on any sudden changes.
6) Have an emergency radio
It’s a good idea to always store an emergency radio on your boat. If you’re a renter, be sure to ask the marina staff if there is one you can borrow for the day. Make sure to check the batteries before you go and bring a few extra spares. If your radio requires a charger, it’s smart to always keep it plugged in.
These are small steps you can take to keep you and your passengers safe! Even if you aren’t operating the boat, you can do this checklist yourself or encourage your operator to do so!
Want more tips for safe boating? Check out our learning resources and boating safety quizzes online at https://www.rentalboatsafety.com/learning!