The weather is warming up and it’s time to hit the water. With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the U.S., the waterways become a very busy destination. Before you set sail with your friends and family, here are a few tips to keep everyone safe and enjoy your time on the water.
When boating, it is required by law that you carry proper and enough life vests for all persons aboard your vessel. Drowning is the cause of nearly 80% of fatalities in boating accidents. Of that, nearly 90% were not wearing a life jacket. Insist that your crew accompanying you wear a life jacket that fits them properly. Wearing a life jacket greatly increases your chance of survival if find yourself overboard.
Boating Safety Course
Taking a boater safety course is a great way to learn the finer details of safe boating. Most courses can now be done online and for free. They will cover everything from rules of the road and navigation, to proper life jackets and other required safety equipment. Out of all boating fatalities, only 13% occurred on vessels where the skipper received a nationally recognized boating safety certificate. Completing a safety course can also qualify you for discounts with most boat insurance carriers.
Free Vessel Safety Check
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Their certified vessel examiners check your boat’s equipment and provide you information on where your vessel may be lacking. Most local marinas and yacht clubs will have the information for your local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.
Watch the Weather
A smooth day on the water can quickly turn rough when the wind kicks up. Always check the weather forecast before setting sail and keep a watchful eye for ever changing conditions. If possible, operate your vessel on the leeward side of the bay, lake, or river in high wind situations.
File a Float Plan
A float plan is a detailed outline of your destination is for the day and your estimated return time. Letting a friend or family member know where you will be boating and your estimated time of return is often overlooked safety item. In emergency situations, this allows that person to notify the authorities of your expected location. Remember to plan your float and float your plan.
With an ever-increasing number of boaters, these few tips will help assure that you have a safe and fun trip on the water. To assure your vessel is not only inured, but insured correctly, reach out to office and our team will guide you through the process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.