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The Top Five Boating Safety Tips For April

In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard estimated that there were about 15.8 million recreational boasts in the United States and around 11.9 million were registered vessels.In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard estimated that there were about 15.8 million recreational boasts in the United States and around 11.9 million were registered vessels.

About 74 million Americans participate in boating activities per year, based on government research. Most of the time, boating experiences are positive and safe. However, in 2015 alone, the U.S. Coast Guard totaled 4,158 boating incidents — 626 of which were deaths, 2,613 were injuries and approximately $42 million worth of damage to property was recorded.

While it is true that every time you take your boat out on the water is a new, exciting experience, regardless of how seasoned you are as a voyager, it is wise to do a safety check before each boat trip. 
Below is a compilation of simple, practical tips you and your passengers can employ to ensure a comfortable and safe boating experience.

Life Jackets
The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that about 78 percent of boating incidents victims died of drowning in 2014 and 84 percent of them weren’t wearing any flotation device or life jacket. As a boat operator, you need to ensure that there are enough Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for every passenger you have on board. Especially if you have children, make sure they are wearing life jackets that fit correctly. 

Even a calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. As the boat’s operator, it is your responsibility to pay attention to the weather. Before departure, make sure you check local weather conditions. TV, radio and online weather apps are an excellent source of information. If you notice a rough, sudden change of winds or an abrupt change in temperature, get off the water as a safety precaution. 

Pre-Departure Checklist
Make sure that your boat is water ready and working properly before you launch. To avoid any potential problems, perform a pre-departure check.
Tell a friend or relative about your float plan and be sure to inform them about your destination and estimated time of return.
Make sure you have sufficient fuel. 

If you have an inboard engine, inspect your boat for leakage or excess water in the bilge or the lowest portion of the boat. If you have an outboard motor, check your fuel system for leaks or extreme gas odor. If you discover any unusual emission of fuel vapor, contact a professional.

Inspect all electrical connections and make sure there are no loose, wonky wiring, or corroded conductors. Also, check all lights and see if they are all working.
Test all communications devices such as radios and smartphones.

Have an emergency evacuation plan and discuss it with your passengers. Also, review the boat’s controls, the location of PFDs and fire extinguishers with them. Make sure to attach your keys to a floating bobber.
Check the condition of your life raft regularly and before going on a long distance, offshore boating.

Make sure your interior overhead lights are working properly. 

Never drink alcohol when boating. There is an increased risk of being involved in a boating accident when somebody on board is drinking alcohol. Alcohol affects vision, judgment, balance, and coordination, which can cause serious accidents. Almost half of all boating accidents are linked to alcohol. Operating a boat while drunk is a federal offense, subject to a $1,000 fine. In most U.S. states, the standards for determining whether a person is intoxicated is the same as its state laws for vehicle driving.

Before drinking on board, consider these reminders:
Some states will suspend your boating license 

  1. It is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater
  2. In some states, your driving record could be damaged
  3. In more severe cases, your boat can be seized or sold at auction.

You can stay focused on the water by getting rid of alcohol.

Carbon Monoxide
Internal combustion engines release carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, poisonous gas that can kill in minutes. This gas is essentially undetectable by human senses. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs by inhalation. If you are exposed to this gas in a confined room for long periods of time, you can suffer from headaches, nausea, dizziness, loss of breath, and when inhaled in higher concentrations, carbon monoxide can potentially kill you.
It is highly recommended to install and maintain a marine grade CO detector and avoid poorly ventilated areas in your boat while the engine is running.

Be a responsible boater. By following these simple steps, you could save your own life and that of your passengers.