Boating Safety Tips – Wallen Swim School in Roseville and El Dorado Hills, California
With summer now in full bloom, its time for many to head out onto the waterways. Whether your boating fun takes place on a river, lake, or the deep blue sea, taking the time for proper safety ensures a successful outing and a safe return home.
There are a few things to consider, and it does not take much time or money to help keep you and your family safe while out on the water. Safe boating begins before you even put your boat into the water. However, the most important aspect of boat safety is your choices while out on the water. What follows is actionable advice to guide you as you take part in one of the summer’s most enjoyable activities.
Before you go…
Consider your local legal requirements for regulations, insurance, and licensing. California law requires anyone who operates a watercraft to be a person 16 years of age or older and in possession of his/her California Boater Card to legally operate a vessel powered by a motor of 15 horsepower or more.
For more information, check out California boating laws and regulationsas well as the United States Coast Guard.If you are inexperienced, find an experienced boater to learn some tips and tricks from so that your competency can be developed before you take your family out on the water. If your watercraft is new to you, take the time to learn how to operate it safely before taking passengers.
Do you have all the equipment you need?
This list will be dependant on what type of activity you may want to participate in, such as wakeboarding or fishing. Regardless of what activity you will be doing, every person in the boat should have a well-fitting life jacket that is in great shape. Attach a whistle to each jacket; this allows for a sounding device should anyone end up in the water unexpectedly. Whistles and other sounding devices such as horns will allow you to call for help.
A well-stocked first-aid kit is a great idea to have on hand, just in case. First aid training is recommended as there are a variety of injuries that can take place while boating, from a fish hook stuck in a finger, to more serious medical conditions.
Must-Have Items To Keep On Board
Depending on the size of your boat, you may want to have a bailing bucket, fire extinguisher, and a life ring on a rope to aid anyone in trouble in the water.
Safety equipment is dependant on the size and type of your vessel, and this list is often set in the laws and regulations. Make sure you confirm what you need for your vessel before you go so that you can avoid possible charges or fines. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a courtesy vessel check,which is educational and valuable, free of charge, and will provide you with guidance without penalty.
File a float plan. Before you go, let another responsible adult know where you are headed, and what time you plan to be back. Leave your contact information with them, and be sure to let them know about your safe return. In the unfortunate event of an emergency, if you do not return on time, help can be sent to your location.
Ensure you are familiar with the features of the water and weather.
And keep these questions in mind:
- Will you need to know tide tables and current patterns?
- Are there areas of very shallow water or rocky bottoms?
- What other watercraft may you encounter?
- Are any storms or bad weather predicted for your time on the water?
Being prepared is critical, so take the time to ensure that the body of water you are heading for is right for your skills and experience and right for the type of watercraft you use. Do your best to avoid being one of the nearly 20,000 annual Search and Rescue calls answered by the United States Coast Guard.
Take advantage of the United States Coast Guard’s mobile appwhich provides safety regulations, float plans, navigation rules, emergency assistance, and more.
While you enjoy your time on the water…
Just as you would be while driving your car, remain vigilant while operating your vessel. This requires attention to 360 degrees around your boat. Know the rules of the water, be cautious and responsive at all times.
Ensure your beverages are alcohol-free! The United States Coast Guard advises that alcohol is a major factor in a third of all recreational boating fatalities. You would never drive your car after having drinks, nor would you take an alcohol-based beverage in your car. This law applies to all boating as well, including canoes, rowboats, and speedboats! Boating requires sharp judgment, quick decision making, and physical skill, all of which are impaired by alcohol.
Your boat has limits on how many passengers it can safely transport. An overcrowded boat can lead to dangerous capsizing or swamping. Too many people will make your boat harder to control as this excess weight reduces the boat’s responsiveness. Your boating guests should remain seated with the weight of all guests distributed evenly throughout the boat.
Remember, life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) only work if you are wearing them. Any injury may impair your ability to swim well enough to rescue yourself, so be sure to wear a life jacket.
Be sure to let your float plan contact know that you have arrived home safely, at or before the agreed-on time. Your contact will no longer need to ensure your safe arrival home.
The purchase of a boat and the necessary equipment is a big investment. Take the time to ensure everything is stored away properly to avoid mold and equipment breakdown.
Reflect on your time out on the water, and take stock of what worked well and what came as an unpleasant surprise. Did you have the necessary equipment and skills to keep everyone safe and having fun? If not, take the time to make the needed changes before you head out again.
Set your family up for even more fun on the water and increase your knowledge of water safety by signing up for swimming lessons and learning to swim at Steve Wallen Swim School! Infants, kids, and adults of all skill levels have been learning to swim and how to be water safe with us for over 40 years!