National Safe Boating Week
National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27, and it’s time to learn about safe boating practices as the weather warms up. There are plenty of resources to learn more about staying safe on and around boats.
Boat Safety Tips
- Know the local boating laws: Anyone driving the boat must be familiar with the local boating laws and may require a license. A violation of these laws can result in fees, fines, and even imprisonment. Check Alabama laws here.
- Wear a life jacket: A life jacket is one of the most critical safety items on the boat. 86% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Ensure you and everyone on board, especially children, have them on when riding the boat.
- Ensure the life jacket fits: A life jacket won’t do much good if it doesn’t form properly. One that is too big will make floating harder, and one that is too small could cause discomfort. Have everyone onboard try them on to find a life jacket that fits properly.
- Understand the boat’s capacity: Do not exceed the listed capacity for your boat. If you have too many people on it at once, you risk the boat capsizing or tipping over.
- Take a boating safety course: An education course in safety will provide valuable information you can take into any boating opportunity.
- Look at the weather: Before you head out on your big adventure, check the weather. It’s dangerous to set sail in poor conditions. If the weather looks questionable, reschedule for another day.
- File a float plan: A float plan should contain information about the boat, the trip, the people on board, communication equipment, towing items, and emergency contacts. Provide this information to someone you trust before you set sail.
- Wear the right clothes: Different weather calls for different clothing. If it’s going to be hot, you might be comfortable in a bathing suit and shirt. If it’s a chilly day, opt for clothes that will keep you comfortable as you sail. Protect yourself from the weather.
- Check your boat: Before you set sail, check the boat for any prior damage that may have occurred. You don’t want to take out a severely damaged boat.
- Don’t drink: Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Never operate a boat if you are impaired. You are putting yourself, your passengers, and other boaters at risk.
- Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning: Gasoline-powered engines produce carbon monoxide. Never block exhaust outlets or stand too close to the exhaust, as carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly and silently. While not always, it can be signified by a headache.
- Maintain communication: Always have a way to communicate with the mainland. Have at least two forms of communication, such as CB radio and cellular service, on your boat and ensure you know how to use them.
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