Is there anything better than spending an afternoon on your boat, surrounded by friends and family? Well, yes — getting back on shore safe and sound after your boating trip.
In 2016, there were a total of 701 boating-related fatalities in the United States. That’s the highest number of fatalities in the last five years. To make sure that you don’t become another statistic, check out these marine safety tips.
- Make Sure Your Boat Itself is Safe
If you’re putting more effort into packing a picnic for your day out on the water than to the boat itself, you may be risking lives. The first order of business when it comes to marine safety is to ensure that your vessel is safe.
You can do so by requesting a vessel safety check.
It’s also essential to have proper safety equipment on board at all times. At the very minimum, stock a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and either an air horn or a whistle for signaling. A marine radio is also a good idea since you might not be able to depend on cell phone service when you’re out on the water.
- Wear Your Life Jackets
This is one of the most important marine safety tips since most boating deaths are caused by drowning. Fully 90% of these drowning deaths occur because the individual is not wearing a personal floatation device.
Ask everyone who boards your boat to wear a life jacket at all times and set a good example by doing so yourself.
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Many people mistakenly believe that it’s safe to drink while operating a boat. Often, they’re the same people who would never dream of getting behind the wheel of a car after imbibing.
It’s certainly fun to have a few beers or glasses of wine while you’re out on the water, but before you even set sail, assign someone to be a designated driver. That way, everyone can enjoy themselves and still get home safe.
- Check the Forecast
You wouldn’t deliberately take your boat out in a thunderstorm or hurricane, but sometimes even the most placid, sunny day can turn tempestuous. High winds can cause difficulty in operating the boat or even sweep passengers overboard. A boat out on the open water can be a magnet for lightning.
If there’s a chance of inclement weather, delay your trip. It’s disappointing, but this marine safety tip will keep you out of harm’s way.
- Be Smart About Swimming and Diving
It goes without saying that you, and everyone else aboard your boat, should have at least rudimentary swimming skills. These, along with your personal floatation device, will greatly increase the odds of surviving if you happen to fall into the water.
While it’s tempting to dive off a boat, especially on a hot and sunny day, use caution. Don’t dive if there are underwater obstructions, and if you must take the plunge, do so feet-first to avoid the possibility of head or neck injuries.
- Conduct Routine Maintenance and Repairs
Does your boat need work? Even if it’s passed a vessel safety check, repairs and refurbishing may be necessary. Address these issues in a timely manner so they don’t become bigger problems. Avoid putting off a minor repair that can turn into a costly project in the long run.
Whether it requires repairs or just routine maintenance, be sure to take care of everything you need to have a fun, safe time on the water.
Consult with our experts at Orange County Dockside Yacht Service to make sure you’re shipshape before your next marine outing!
Orange County Dockside Service is based in Newport Beach, CA and serves the Orange and Los Angeles Counties from Dana Point to Marina Del Rey. We specialize in mechanical repair, topside maintenance, fiberglass repair and restoration, bottom cleaning and antifouling, electronics installations, rigging, and much more.