Stay Safe on The Water with These Boating Safety Tips
Whether you are relaxing in the middle of a crystal clear lake with that fishing pole dangling over the water or skipping over the waves in a speedboat, there is just something about being in a boat that cannot be duplicated with any other activity. Boats are as American as apple pie but have a global appeal as a status symbol or just a simple way to get away from everyday life for a while.
Prerequisites for Boaters
The first thing a new boat owner needs to realize is that if it has a motor, even an auxiliary motor as on a sailboat, it will be considered by the state as a motor vehicle requiring a title and possibly a registration. The laws vary from state to state so you will need to check on your state’s laws and remember that the boat’s trailer will need a license and registration as well.
Another thing to remember is that some states require that boaters take a boater’s education course before taking charge of the helm and may require a special license to operate a boat. Skeptics will think that these measures are merely a way to line government coffers, but the truth is they are meant to promote safety and the responsible use of the watercraft.
There are many low-cost and no-cost education programs available that can be taken on-line or in a classroom. If you are new to boating, learning the basics is essential before your initial launch regardless of any state requirements.
A good insurance policy for your boat is another requirement that cannot be ignored. Just like an automobile policy protects drivers on the roads, boat insurance protects you and others if a mishap occurs resulting in damages and injuries. The good news is that a boat policy is less expensive and, on average, cost about 1% to 2% of the value of the boat annually.
Ready for Launch?
Finally, after a trip to the DMV, your insurance company, and then to the shopping center to pick up all the accessories, fishing equipment, water skis, and safety vests, you are ready to launch your boat into the water for a day of aquatic joy. The one final thing to do now is to gather your crew and read them this list of following tips to keep everyone safe on the water:
· Have the proper safety gear, know how to use it, and be sure that everyone knows how to wear a life jacket. Children’s life jackets need to be the right size for their age and weight, and they should always wear them near the dock, in the marina, or near any body of water. Always think safety first with little ones.
· Be sure to have a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher on board.
· If the weather is threatening have a back-up plan to spend the day and keep that boat at the dock or on the trailer. There will be other clear sunny days for a boating excursion.
· Always be aware that a gas leak can lead to disaster. Make sure that you and the crew, no matter how young, are familiar with the odor of gas and will alert an adult immediately
· Use common sense like avoiding standing up in the boat at high speed or in rough waters or not swimming in polluted water or shark-infested waters off the coast of Florida. Be sure to carry sunscreen/lotion.
The last and most important tip: Boating under the influence of alcohol or BUI is just the same as a DUI in every state. If you are the captain at the helm, avoid alcohol, find a “designated captain”, or at the least keep consumption at a minimum. An average-sized person will be “presumed impaired” if the blood alcohol content is at 0.08 gm/ 100ml of blood or about four 12 oz beers in the first hour of drinking.
The financial and legal consequences of BUI are severe as in a recent Florida case where a defendant was charged with leaving the scene of a boating accident involving injury and two deaths. A civil jury awarded approximately $1.5 million and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages to the families of those who were killed. Repeat offenders will probably face some jail time.
Questions and Concerns
Your agent for boater’s insurance will be able to answer all your other questions about boat safety and insurance policies. Boaters in the Lake Erie area can call The Frederick Agency at 419-732-3171 or send an email or text to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy boating and stay safe.