|Boating Safety Tips
Fintalk offers basic boating knowledge and safety tips.
Please refer to the current
Coast Guard government website
for more in-depth and up-to-date safety and navigation laws!
Recreational Boating Tips
It is up to you, the Captain of your vessel to make sure your boat and navigation equipment are properly maintained in good working order. It is up to you to ensure the safety of you and your crew by having all the Coast Guard required safety gear, including life jackets for all passengers, fire extinguishers, navigational lights and other safety equipment. Double check to make sure all your gear is in top working order and is up to date, this includes checking the dates on flares and extinguishers. Be sure to follow all navigational laws and just like when driving an automobile be sure to be defensive. Don't assume that the other guy will make the proper decisions on the water. A few extra precautions can save lives, take the time.
Each year hundreds of lives are lost... thousands are injured... and millions of dollars of property damage occurs because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways. Too often pleasure outings turn tragic. You — as a boat operator, passenger, or concerned individual — can make a difference.
- Stay on the right side of the channel where possible.
- If on a river - the boat coming downriver has the right-of-way.
- Don't come to a stop with your boat blocking the channel.
- Try not to fish in a busy channel.
"In 2002, alcohol was involved in 39 percent of all boating fatalities."
- U.S.Coast Guard
||Before departure, always be sure your vessel is in good working condition and properly equipped for emergencies. Avoid inconvenience and potential danger by keeping your boat well maintained, and taking a few minutes before each trip to inspect your boat and check for the following:
- Lifejackets for each person (properly sized and worn)
- Current weather forecast and tides checked
- Boat plug installed/sea cock closed
- VHF marine radio (tested prior to departure)
- Fire extinguishers (fully charged)
- Throwable flotation device with floating line attached
- Sound-producing device (air horn, whistle, bell)
- Visual distress signals (flares, orange flag, signal light)
- Fuel and oil sufficient for trip ( 1 /3 out, 1 /3 return, 1 /3 reserve)
- Battery fully charged, terminals covered & battery secured
- Bilge pump and manual pump or bailing device
- Tools and spare parts (battery, fuses, spark plugs, belts)
- Navigation lights functioning properly
- Registration certificate onboard, numbers and decals affixed
- Paddle/oar or other alternate propulsion
- Food/emergency shelter/drinking water
- First Aid Kit
...MORE SAFETY & BOATING SAFETY CHECKS
ALWAYS WEAR A
Drowning is a major leading cause of death in coastal states. The majority of Americans who died in boating accidents capsized or fell overboard and were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets should always be worn. They must be in good condition, properly sized and fastened. Your life may depend on it!
Drinking and operating a boat is as dangerous as drinking and operating a car. Alcohol negatively affects your sense of balance, peripheral and night vision, your judgment, and your reaction time. Alcohol also increases heat loss and the risk of hypothermia.
Local knowledge is invaluable in avoiding hazards that are not always easy to identify. Study local maps, charts and tide tables. Learn local weather patterns and tides. Contact the local harbormaster, village public safety officer, local health officials, or talk to other local boaters before boating in an unfamiliar area. Check local weather and water conditions before each trip.
ALWAYS COMPLETE A
Does someone know your plans in case you do not return on schedule? Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return, who is onboard, and when and who to notify if you are overdue. Include a detailed description of your boat and registra-tion numbers. Then do not forget to let the same people know when you return. It's that simple.
File a Float Plan
Boating education is a lifelong process. Take a boating safety course. Learn how to do basic troubleshooting and field re-pairs. Make sure your passengers know where the safety equipment is and how to use it. Do they know how to start, stop and steer the boat? For more information contact visit the United States Coast Guard boat safety site:
USCG Boat Safety
Follow the recommendations of the capacity plate and owner's manual. Distribute weight for best handling and performance. Secure loads to prevent sudden shifting. Remember that safe vessel capacity is greatly affected by the weather and water conditions.
More Safety Tips
- A safe boater will always have the appropriate nautical chart(s) onboard their vessel. The exact meaning of an aid to navigation may not be clear to the boater unless the appropriate chart is consulted.
- Boaters who pass too close to a buoy risk collision with a buoy, the buoy's mooring, or with the obstruction which the aid marks. Boaters must not rely solely on any single aid to navigation for determining their position, particularly buoys. Environmental conditions, seabed slope, composition, and collisions or other accidents may cause buoys to shift from their charted positions, sink or capsize.
- Boaters should not come close to beacons due to the danger of collision with riprap (stones/broken rocks), structure foundation, or with the obstruction/danger which the aid marks. Always maintain a safe distance from all aids to navigation.