Safe Driving For Memorial Day Weekend

Safety Tips

Here at BC Law, we know how much fun boating can be for families especially driving during Memorial Day weekend. South Florida is covered with waterways. Did you know it can be very risky and can end up taking your life if you are not careful?

We want to make sure you are aware of all safety procedures ahead of your next boating experience, so it does not become your last. Check out our safety tips for boating trips below.

Keep Your Safety Kit Close – No Exceptions!

No one can predict when an emergency will happen, so you always want to be prepared for any situation that could arise when you are on the water. Remember, a precaution is always better than a cure. No matter the size of your boat, your safety kit always needs to be on board. The following are some important things that should be included in your kit.

  • Fire Extinguisher: Being on the water does not eliminate a fire from breaking out on board. All passengers should be aware of where the fire extinguisher is located and how to use it properly.
  • Mirror:Use a reflective object, such as a mirror to signal other boats and people for assistance.
  • Garbage Bags: Use these as rain ponchos and to cover objects on board to keep them from getting wet.
  • Bucket: You are on a boat; water will inevitably get in some sort of way. Keeping a bucket onboard is essential to bail out water that enters your boat.
  • Flashlight:If you run out of fuel or your craft stalls, a flashlight and extra batteries can help you see around your boat in the dark and to signal to other vessels.
  • Life Jackets: Every person on board should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Continue reading this article to learn how to choose the best life jackets.
  • Duct Tape: Most problems can be fixed with duct tape! For example, if your boat springs a leak, using duct tape could make a temporary fix until you can get a permanent repair.
  • First Aid Kit: If you have an accident or medical emergency, having a well-stocked first-aid kit and knowing how to use it is important.
  • Whistle: A waterproof whistle is another must-have on the water as a known signal for assistance.
  • Ropes: Ropes are important for saving anyone who has fallen overboard, docking your boat, and tying down loose objects in bad weather.

Life Jackets are Life Savers

The law requires every person on board a boat to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket available, even if not worn. In certain circumstances, children must wear life jackets on board at all times. Life jackets are useful for more than just keeping you afloat. Many sold today are equipped to inflate manually or automatically, wake up an unconscious person, signal with pulsing light and even avoid hypothermia. You want to make sure to choose a life jacket that is appropriate for your height and weight.

Before you buy it, try it on. Fasten the vest and have someone gently pull the top of the arm opening to ensure it fits snugly.

Both automatic and manual inflatable life vests will maneuver an unconscious wearer face-up. However, life jackets must be maintained regularly. It is important to note however, that these types of life jackets are not suitable for children under the age of 16.

If you are going to be fishing out on the water, make sure you consider a life jacket with pockets and straps so you can hold your tackle and supplies.

There are several different styles of life jackets available. Make sure the life jacket you choose is suitable for your on-water operation before you buy it.

Check the Weather

Boating is best on warm, sunny days, but you never know when a storm will roll in unexpectedly. Varying wind gusts and choppy water are clear indicators of an approaching storm. Even if it is a balmy spring day, the water can represent a change in the weather on the horizon. If your boat sinks or you and your passengers find yourselves in the water, make sure you have a plan in place for what you would do.

Only Keep What is Necessary

Always stick to your boat’s power limits. Overcrowding your boat with passengers or equipment will cause it to become unbalanced and unsafe.

Look Out for Harmful Fumes

Open all the hatches and smell for fumes after refueling your vessel. If the engine is defective, do not start it. Carbon monoxide can build up in and around your boat quickly, knocking you or your guests unconscious. Be mindful of all potential sources of fumes and gases, such as:

  • Enclosed spaces
  • Blocked exhaust outlets
  • Nearby boats
  • Inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures
  • When your engine is idling, running at a slow speed, or stopped

Use Common Sense

The rules of the water are similar to the rules of the road. It is critical to use good judgment when operating a boat. You must be vigilant at all times, drive at a safe pace, and always ensure that your passengers remain safely inside the boat’s railings.

Anchoring Procedures CANNOT be Ignored

It is not enough to simply have the right anchor. You must make sure you are anchoring properly. Know your boat’s requirements for anchoring in all types of weather and water and how to properly and safely pull anchor.

Always Follow Docking Procedures

Docking can be difficult. It is much more than simply pulling up to the dock. Docking takes into account the wind, current, and form of the boat. As you reach the dock or shore, slow down, and secure your docking lines. If the wind is blowing towards the dock, bring the boat about two feet from the dock and let the wind gently push you in. If the wind is blowing away from the dock, approach at a 20 to 30-degree angle so the bowline can be secured, and then back into the space.

Boating Safety Course

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 70% of all boating incidents are due to operator negligence. Make sure you understand the rules and obligations on the water before you leave port. It is extremely important to educate yourself. There are several online courses available, including a few that are completely free. The BoatUS. Foundation provides a free online boating safety course customized to each state. A catalog of online and hands-on boating safety courses is available from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Boat Maintenance and Check Are Important

Free Vessel Safety Checks are provided by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. There is no fee, and there are no repercussions if your boat fails to pass.

No matter how well you plan to keep yourself, your passengers, and your boat safe, accidents will still happen. Here at BC Law, we want to make sure you have all the information possible to stay as safe as possible on the water.