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12 Boating and Yachting Safety Tips

In 2014, the United States Coast Guard counted 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths. This was 10.6% increase from 2013’s fatalities. It is clear that although there are countless resources on boating safety tips more must be done. The following are 12 safe boating and yachting safety practices that everyone should know about.

  1. Use Your Common Sense – Operate your vessel at safe speeds, keep your eyes peeled for other boats and obstacles such as trees or shallow water, always have an experienced boater on board, don’t go out when the water is too choppy, etc.
  2. Take a Boat Course – These courses go over safety rules and operation protocols and are actually required in some states. All boaters should take these to stay educated and updated on safe boating actions.
  3. Have a Float Plan – Float plans are often given to a relative or local marina and include information such as the boat type and registration, names and phone numbers of each person on board, where you plan to go, and for how long.
  4. Swimming – All of those boating with or around you should know how to swim. This is important for both non-swimmers and people boating with non-swimmers. Find classes near or around you if you don’t know how to swim and plan on being around bodies of water regularly.
  5. Use Safety Equipment – Having the right equipment on board and making sure that each is used properly is vital. Personal flotation devices, throwable flotation devices, fire extinguishers, distress signaling devices are all forms of safety equipment. Before you leave the marina, make sure every passenger knows how to use each of these tools.
  6. Follow a Departure Plan – There are many checklists online, but following a departure plan helps to cover bases that may be missed. Departure checklists often include the following: making sure all of the safety equipment is on board and in working order, the engine is maintained and working properly, you have enough fuel, and have the proper documentation (papers, permits, charts).
  7. Do a Vessel Safety and Maintenance Check – This will likely be a part of your departure plan, but it is important to make sure lights are working, the engine is running fine, and do a fluid analysis to monitor your transmission, among other practices.
  8. Be Weather Aware – Check weather forecasts and weather patterns, keep an eye on the sky while boating, and make sure you have access to a radio to receive any incoming weather updates.
  9. Be Comfortable with First Aid Practices – Medical emergencies can happen at any time and learning to recognize and respond to situations appropriately can benefit those around you as well as yourself.
  10. Plan for Pets – If you plan on bringing Skipper along for the ride, make sure he has a dog life vest. Just as a life jacket helps bring you home safely, animal life jackets help bring family pets home safely.
  11. Avoid Substances that Influence – While alcohol is certainly one of the most frequently used influencers, there are many other types of drugs out there with unwanted and unknown side effects. If you have just begun taking a new prescription medication or are a few beers deep, you probably shouldn’t be operating a boat.
  12. Have Other Able-Bodied Persons Available – In case of emergencies or inebriation, there should be a second individual who knows how to operate the yacht or boat well enough to take over in case the original operator is incapable of doing so for whatever reason.