For those of us who love being out on the water, fewer things are more enjoyable or relaxing than boating.
And there’s no end to the list of fun activities you and your friends and family can take part in while out on the water. However, it’s important to know when to say when and when having fun crosses a line that could put you and anyone on your boat in harm’s way.
Always stay hydrated while boating
First of all, it’s important to stay hydrated while you’re out in the sun on your boat. That, however, doesn’t mean you should ever drink anything alcoholic while you’re on the boat – or before you get on the boat. You must remember that you’re responsible for whoever is with you and anyone who might be around you on the water. More than 50 percent of all boating accidents involve alcohol so be smart and just say no should anyone offer you a drink.
Know local boating rules and laws
Also, always follow the rules of the lake, river or ocean. While you might be tempted to get off course to look for wide-open water, stay in navigable waters and drive at a safe speed (never, ever race someone on the water). Monitor your wakes, maintain plenty of distance between you and other boats and always have someone designated to look out for people who might be in the water.
Take extra precautions with water sports
If you’re water skiing or have tubes that people are riding on, make sure everyone knows the hand signs so skiers and riders can communicate with the boat (the OK signal, thumbs up (faster), thumbs down (slower), hand moving across throat (stop) and patting your head (return to the dock or shore). One thing you have to keep in mind is that yelling can be difficult to hear over the boat’s engine so making sure your passengers know these signals is crucial.
A few other tips:
- Always wear a life jacket. Did you know that 80 percent of boating accident fatalities involved people who weren’t wearing a jacket? Don’t let someone tell you it’s OK not to wear one or make you feel you’re being overly cautious if you do. An accident can happen in a matter of seconds – be prepared for it.
- Have a float plan for your time on the water and leave it with a friend of member of your family who won’t be on the boat. The plan should include where you’re going, who’s on the boat, a description of your boat and when you will be back.
- Have a backup driver who knows how to operate your boat. If something should happen to the pilot, you need to have someone else who can properly navigate the boat.
- Keep food and snacks on the boat in case of emergencies that might leave you stranded.
- Be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. During warm weather, you’ll be exposed to plenty of sun while you’re on the boat or in the water so make sure you’re hydrated and protected. If you go into the water, put more sunscreen on to protect your skin from burning.
Boating is a great way to spend time with friends and family – just make sure you follow the rules and keep everyone safe. If you do, you’ll all have a fun, relaxing and exhilarating experience on the water!