As the weather has (finally) turned warmer, our minds wander to the open water. For those of us who will enjoy boating and water sports in the upcoming months, it’s smart to refresh our memories about how to stay safe while enjoying ourselves. This week and in the weeks to come, we will present some of the most important water sport-related safety tips for, as recommended by the Recreational Boating Industry and the United States Coast Guard.
1. Alcohol and Boating and/or Water Sports do NOT Mix!
According to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Consuming alcohol significantly diminishes your ability to react quickly to a potentially dangerous situation, and it is simply not safe to do when participating in water sports or boating. So stay hydrated, but stay sober!
2. Wear a Life Jacket
Boaters enjoy the feel of sun and spray. So it’s tempting to boat without wearing a life jacket – especially on nice days. But modern life jackets are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. Many are thin and flexible. Some are built right into fishing vests or hunter coats. Others are inflatable — as compact as a scarf or fanny pack until they hit water, when they automatically fill with air. And, remember that all recreational boats must carry one wearable lifejacket (Type I, II, III or Type V lifejacket) for each person
Life jackets save lives in many situations, including (but not limited to):
When capsized in rough water; when sinking in unexpectedly heavy sea conditions; when thrown from the boat as a result of a collision; when injured by rocks or submerged items; when unconscious from carbon monoxide fumes; when tossed into freezing water, when thrown off balance while fishing; when unable to swim because of heavy or waterlogged clothing.
There’s no excuse not to wear a life jacket on the water! For more detailed information about how to choose a life jacket, here is a link to the USCG brochure on the topic:
How to Choose the Right Life Jacket Brochure – PDF
3. Don’t Head Out Alone
Whether boating or swimming, take at least one other person with you, and make sure that someone who is remaining on shore knows where you are going and when you are planning to return. That way, if you do not return as planned, this information could be used to help locate you and narrow down the search.