Who doesn’t love a relaxing day on the water? From boating to canoeing to kayaking, some of the best memories can be made afloat. However, In 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,145 boating accidents that resulted in 2,511 injuries and 633 fatalities.
With numbers such as these, you may wonder what can be done to keep YOU from becoming a statistic.
Make a List of Essentials
Don’t be THAT person that comes ill-prepared. Before going out on the boat, kayak or canoe, make a list of all the essentials you’ll need for the day. Most importantly, be sure to wear a nationally-approved personal flotation device. It may seem like a no-brainer, but 83% of boaters who drowned were reported to not be wearing a life jacket.
For all the items you don’t want to get wet, it’s worth investing in a dry bag. Pack extra water, sunglasses, insect repellent, a hat, non-cotton clothes, sturdy shoes, food and sunscreen. Make sure you also have a first aid kit onboard and repair kit that can get you safely back to shore if you start taking on water.
Don't Drink and Drive
Most of us know that it's illegal to drink and drive a car. But did you know the same rules apply to boats? In fact, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for those operating a boat is 0.08 - the same as driving on the road.
Alcohol use was the leading-known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents for 2018. You may want to partake in the celebration on the water, but if you are the driver of the boat, you must be responsible and not become inebriated.
Check the Weather
Expect the unexpected! It’s important to check conditions such as weather and tides before going out on the water. Whether you are going on a multi-day excursion or just paddling for an afternoon, it’s crucial to check the current weather conditions to help you dress and pack appropriately for an enjoyable trip.
With the right clothing, you can prevent hypothermia and the other negative effects caused by detrimental weather conditions that can quickly change on the water.
Be Fully Equipt
Before going out, it’s crucial you double-check that your vessel is ready to weather whatever mother nature throws at you. Check your equipment prior to each use for signs of wear or failure. For a larger vessel, it’s smart to have a bilge pump aboard. They are handy when your bottom side is in a puddle, and vital if you capsize and have a boatful of water to purge.
Depending on your boat’s size, it may also be helpful to bring a spare paddle (one per paddler is best, though a group can also share one or two spares). Another essential is a towline, just in case you can’t get to shore on your own.
Last and definitely not least, always bring a headlamp or flashlight, in case you’re out longer than you anticipated.
Know the Ropes
When analyzing information on boaters involved in an accident, the USCG found that 77% of those involved in a fatal accident did not attain a nationally-approved boating safety certificate. Just as you study state law before getting your driver's license, you must study and pass an exam to hold a boating license.
People may think they can skip this step and never get caught, but as the stats show, this gamble can result in serious consequences. Most boating accidents occur from falling off boats and from unsafe driving. A few simple measures can help prevent both you and your passengers from serious injury.
Prepare for Longer Trips
Whether you’re trekking a little farther than usual or preparing for a longer trip on the water, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terrain of where you’re going. Bring a compass and a map/GPS along for reference.
In addition to navigation, it’s always nice to have a change of clothes for longer trips. Be sure to pack a set of extra clothing in your dry bag. No one wants to be sopping wet the whole day. Additionally, make sure you have a charged phone battery and a backup charger, in case of an emergency.
By reading along with these tips, you’re already a few steps closer to getting out the water. However, don’t stop here. Check out your local wildlife resources for more information on how you can be more nautically-responsible.
Finally, if you ever find yourself injured in a boating accident thanks to someone being careless, be sure to give us a call - 800-844-1712 - or contact us online 24/7. We ALWAYS answer your questions and review your case for FREE.