10 Tips for National Safe Boating Week

On a Boat, Lonely Island Crew
The Lonely Island Crew would be cooler with life jackets...

As the weather warms up and the summer holidays are fast approaching, I wanted to wish you all a Happy National Safe Boating Week! Little fuzzy on our boat safety, you say? Well plop yourself down and I’ll help you out with 10 safety tips to get you ready for boating season.

  1. Wear a Life Jacket In 2008, more than 2/3 of all fatal boating accidents victims drowned– 90% of them weren’t wearing their life jackets. This is pretty common sense, but everyone, regardless of age, should be wearing a life jacket or at least have a jacket for every passenger on board. And bulk is not an excuse, they do make lighter jackets nowadays. You might not feel super cool, but you’ll be super safe.
  2. Choose a Designated Boat Driver According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Lots of sun exposure and exercise can make boaters with only one drink very dehydrated and disorientated.  A D.B.D. will ensure everyone has a safe and fun time.
  3. Check Your Fuel Level Fuel drop requests are one of the most common calls received by Sea Tow operators, a leading in marine assistance.  Make sure to top off your tank before each trip and know and keep track of your boat’s per hour fuel consumption as you go.
  4. Vent Your Bilge Always remember to shut off the engine when fueling and to run the blowers for the required amount of time. This helps to vent your bilge of any fumes before restarting.
  5. Inspect Your Bilge: Do a double check and make sure there’s no excess water in the bilge. Check the bilge pumps and drain plugs to make sure everything is as it should be before leaving the dock.
  6. Update Your Charts Running aground is another common problem for boaters so make sure you have the latest paper and digital charts on board. The Alliance for Safe Navigation is a fantastic place to start.
  7. Check the Weather Know your tide tables and get the most recent weather forecast before setting out. No one wants to get stuck in a thunderstorm in the middle of the ocean.
  8. Test Your VHF Whether you roll in a cozy dingy or a giant yacht, a working VHF radio is a requirement, so double check and maker sure it’s functioning before leaving the dock. A cell phone can be a useful back up, but because service can get iffy out on the water, it’s best to relegate the phone to back up.
  9. File a Float Plan Leave a float plan, including a detailed itinerary, with someone reliable who will notify the authorities if you don’t return by a designated time. The U.S. Coast Guard has free templates available here.
  10. Carry an Anchor Don’t overlook this safety tool! An anchor with adequate rode can save your boat when the engine fails and your waiting for help to show up.