This year during National Safe Boating Week, and throughout the boating season, remember to practice safe and responsible boating, always wear your life jacket, and be alert and aware while on the water. By practicing these simple steps you can save your life as well as the lives of the people boating with you.
The NFTA Boat Harbor opened May 1 after a mild winter here in Western New York. With such an early start to the boating season, National Safe Boating Week comes just in time to talk safe boating.
Each year hundreds of lives are lost, thousands more injured, and millions of dollars of property damage happens because of preventable boating accidents. To help prevent these accidents, New York State now requires a boating safety certificate for anyone operating a personal watercraft (jet ski) and for anyone operating a boat powered by motors greater than 25 horsepower, born on or after January 1st, 1982. There is a boating safety certificate class for Buffalo-Niagara boaters on June 2nd.
Once certified, a boater or passenger should continue thinking about safety this summer. So here is Discover Boat's basic boating safety checklist.
Be Weather-wise: Always check local weather conditions before departing. Television and radio forecasts are a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
Follow a Pre-Departure Checklist: Proper boating safety means being prepared for any possibility on the water. From compliance with fire safety regulations to tips for fueling up, following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten.
Use Common Sense: This means operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be alert, and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there for one reason only- to ensure your own boating safety.
Designate an Assistant Skipper: Make sure more than only one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and other boating safety tips. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules.
Develop a Float Plan: Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your float plan. This should include where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone.
A float plan can include the following information: name, address, and phone number of trip leader; name and phone number of all passengers; boat type and registration information; trip itinerary; and types of communication and signal equipment onboard.
Make Proper Use of Life Jackets: Make sure that your family and friends are assigned and fitted with a life jacket-prior to departure.
Avoid Alcohol: The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved, and studies have also shown that the affect of alcohol is exacerbated by external effects such as sun and wind.
Learn to Swim: If you’re going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety means knowing how to swim.
Take a Boating Course: Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. It's always important to be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that might arise. You can learn boating safety rules by taking a local community course, or there are online tutorials to help educate novice boaters.
Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check: Take advantage of a free Vessel Safety Check from the US Coast Guard. They offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and the federal regulations. Free of charge, they’ll provide a specialist to check out your boat and make helpful boating safety tips and recommendations. They also offer virtual online safety checks as well.
Safe boating this season.