Tips For Avoiding Boat Accidents

Boating can be a wonderful way for families to spend time together, enjoy the outdoors, and engage in healthy activities. However, boating can also entail a number of hazards that can turn an enjoyable afternoon into a tragic event. You can avoid boating accidents by following a number of safe boating tips.

Operator Inexperience
A new boat owner should take the craft out for a number of “practice runs” to familiarize himself or herself with the feel and features of the boat before attempting to take out a party of guests for an afternoon of fun and swimming. Time spent learning the proper operation of your boat is a responsibility that can help keep your boating guests safe throughout the day.

Safety Equipment
Boaters should ensure that they carry proper safety equipment in case of problems. Each passenger should have a personal flotation device, including smaller sizes for children on board. Flares, a tool kit, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, flashlight, marine radio and life preserver are just a few of the items that may be needed to ensure your safety on the water.

Weather Conditions
A responsible boat owner researches the weather conditions that can be expected during the day on the water to ensure that heavy rain, lightning or other hazards do not endanger passengers. Many waterways can become extremely rough and hazardous during stormy conditions. An experienced boater will find out weather conditions in advance and get back to port before bad weather approaches.

Mechanical Problems
Mechanical problems are sometimes the cause of boating accidents. Always ensure that your boat is in proper condition for operation. Do scheduled maintenance to check for mechanical problems. If you encounter a problem while on the water, call a tow company immediately to get you and your party of guests safely back to shore.

Excessive Speed
Excessive speed is frequently the cause of accidents on the water. Though it may seem you have an open expanse of water, small tributaries can suddenly bring another boat into collision with your own. If it is an unfamiliar body of water, you may be unaware of hazards under the water that can cause a sudden accident. Always keep your speed within recommended limits to avoid causing a hazard to yourself and others.

Alcohol Consumption
According to the DUI Foundation, alcohol is involved in about 50% of all boating accidents. It is the boat owner’s responsibility to ensure that those who are drinking on his or her boat behave in a safe manner. The driver of the boat should always refrain from alcohol to ensure that the passengers remain safe throughout the day.

Sources:
http://www.azgfd.gov/i_e/pubs/Top10Causes.shtml
http://www.offshoreblue.com/safety/boating-accidents.php
http://www.duifoundation.org/drunkdriving/bui/