Hardee, Massey & Blodgett reminds everyone heading onto the water this summer to take the proper precautions to keep you and your family safe. It is always fun to have things like water skis, tubes, and kneeboards on your boat, there are some boating essentials needed to keep you and your passengers safe.
It is imperative to select the right style life jacket for your boating activities. Make sure you read the label for the life vest’s intended use, size and other important information. You should always have at least one U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket per passenger on board, along with two extra jackets.
THROWABLE FLOTATION AIDS
A throwable device must be available for the operator of the boat to throw in case a person should go overboard. This aid is designed to be thrown to a person in the water so they can hold onto it until they are rescued. This throwable aid is not designed to be worn. Throwable devices include ring buoys, buoyant cushions and horseshoe buoys. Most throwables do not include line, so make sure you have several feet of floating line for each throwable incase the rescuer needs to assist a victim in the water. Make sure you read the label and ensure your flotation device is U.S Coast Guard approved.
VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNALS
U.S. Coast Guard approved flares, orange signal flags, day signals, and electric distress lights are an essential part of boater safety. You should always check the condition of these devices before you leave on your boating trip.
SOUND PRODUCING DEVICES
These include a whistle, horn, or bell audible for one-half mile. In an event where visibility becomes an issue, a sound producing device such as these are essential. Horns, whistles and bells must be easily accessible to all the passengers onboard. One suggestion is to attach a whistle to each life vest onboard.
ENGINE CUT-OFF DEVICE
Many boating accidents involve operators or passengers who fall overboard. Wearing an engine cut-off switch or wireless engine cut-off device will automatically shut the engine off if the operator falls overboard or is ejected from their seat. This could prevent someone from being run over by their own boat. An out of control, unmanned boat could circle ejected passengers and possibly run them over resulting in severe injury or death if struck by the propeller. Wearing an engine cut-off device will make it easier to reboard the boat and reduce the risk of a propeller injury.
EMERGENCY LOCATOR DEVICE
These devices are used to alert search and rescue services. Two of the most common include an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). An EPIRB is for one’s boat and registered to the vessel, while a PLB is registered to the person.
EMERGENCY BOATING KIT
Even a most well-maintained boat can have unexpected trouble on the water. Because of this it is recommended that you have an Emergency Boating Kit onboard. Most boat and outdoor stores have different types of emergency boating kits available for sale.
Last but not least, stay hydrated. Since boating typically takes place during hot, summer months, it is vital to make sure you have ample water for yourself and all passengers onboard.
One final suggestion is to take a boating course. These can be found by state on the NASBLA website.