Take Safety Home: Boating Safety

There’s nothing quite like taking a trip out on the ocean, feeling the wind ruffle through your hair, or enjoying the familiar scent of the sea’s faint brininess. However, there are safety regulations that govern recreational boating. Here are a few tips that you should be made aware of:

1. Preparation

A safe boating trip begins with adequate preparation and research. Familiarize yourself with your state’s boating laws, which places restrictions depending on a) certifications & licenses and b) age. This is particularly pertinent if you plan on bringing children aboard.

Most states provide free safety courses, so consider taking one before you set sail. Also, check prior to boarding for proper safety equipment and functional maintenance. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG) performs Vessel Safety Checks (VSCs) for free! The USCG also provides a float plan template to leave with friends or family prior to your departure.

2. Keep an Eye on the Weather

Bring a radio and keep an eye on the weather at all times. Know what the weather conditions will be during the course of your trip, and be prepared to turn back if it takes a marked turn for the worse.

3. Sober Up!

Did you know that the physical consequences of operating a boat can be more severe than that of a vehicle? That is because the effects can often be compounded by the rough and tumble of the seas- unexpected winds could leave you struggling to stay in control of your craft.

This is why operating a boat under the influence (BUI) is illegal in all 50 states, with the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit generally being around .08 in most states. If you do choose to drink irresponsibly, be prepared for possibly serious medical as well as legal consequences.

4. Wear Your Life Jacket at All Times

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating fatalities could have been prevented by wearing a life jacket. If your boat is longer than 16 feet, you may be required to bring a Type-IV throwable device as well. Use a USCG-approved life jacket, and make sure that it is functional. Children under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a life jacket at all times.

5. Don’t Play Near the Propeller or Engine

Do not allow anyone to board the boat while the engine is active, and be watchful of the propeller area if people are in surrounding water! If someone accidentally falls overboard, turn off the propeller or steer the stern and propeller away from the individual.

This information is provided to you as a service by Compliance Consultants, Inc.

A portion of this information was compiled from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and ARAG Legal websites.