Memorial Day weekend serves as the traditional unofficial “start” to summer boating season, and with a record number of new boaters on the water in the past years, and boating participation expected to reach record levels this year, the Water Sports Foundation is being proactive about promoting safe boating.
“Especially with so many new boaters gearing up for a fun season of activity on our nation’s crowded waterways, we felt it was important to share these tips to keep boaters safe and alert this year,” says Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons.
Remember these 10 tips from the Water Sports Foundation and boat safely this season:
- Take a Boating Safety Class or Refresher: In many states, new boaters are required to take mandated boater ed classes, but now there is a wealth of new online and hybrid classes also available on a variety of boating topics and for all skill levels, through public and private providers.
- Buckle Up: To maximize safety, make sure everyone on board has been properly fitted with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, and wears it while underway.
- Designate a Sober Skipper: “For the safety of not only your crew, but others sharing the waterways, we recommend avoiding alcohol altogether while boating, or at the very least, the driver should take the pledge to be a sober skipper,” says Emmons.
- Pre-Season Boating Safety Vessel & Equipment Checks: If it’s been awhile since you’ve taken your boat out, invest in a complimentary boating safety vessel check provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in your area. Make sure you’re thoroughly familiar with the operating instructions of your vessel and ensure your equipment is in proper working condition prior to departure. In addition, carry and be proficient in the operation of a VHF radio, EPIRB or personal locator beacon.
- Be Smart: File a Float Plan: Before departure, prepare a simple document known as a “float plan” and share with family members, friends and/or your marina staff that includes a list of your crew members, their contact information including cell numbers, along with your itinerary including all destination(s) and your expected return time.
- All Aboard: Crew Communication: At the dock and before departure, the captain should review boating safety requirements with everyone, clearly explaining safety protocols and expectations, especially if new boaters are aboard.
- Weather or Not to Go: Prior to planning or launching your boating adventure, consult weather forecasts and conditions. Don’t go if the weather is unfavorable.
- Slow Down: Be aware and follow all speed limits and no wake zones.
- Focus: Many boating accidents are reportedly the direct result of operator distraction or inattention. The designated skipper needs to be especially vigilant and to assume full responsibility for the safety of all those aboard.
- Pick Your Playgrounds with Care: Busy boating holidays generate busy boating traffic. With that in mind, carefully consider your destinations. If you’re a new boater, avoid the most popular boating venues where the ability to navigate, drop and set anchors and lines in confined spaces is particularly challenging.
Visit watersportsfoundation.com to learn more.