When you head out to the lake this summer, make sure that you are keeping safe. Boating is a fantastic way to spend your day, but boaters and their guests need to make precautions before they head out. Most accidents that happen on the water, happen because there was a safety measure that was skipped. Don’t let your summer plans end with an accident that could have been avoided.
Check-In with Yourself and Friends Often
This is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your company. We all know that when boating you should be checking in with the mechanics of the boat consistently. Checking fuel, sensors, directions, and whatever other aspects of your boat play a factor in your navigation and running of the boat. But checking in with yourself and your friends, tends to not come to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Regardless of where you have taken out the boat, you will want to keep plenty of water and sunscreen on hand and where everyone can reach it. If your friends are drinking on the boat, make sure to consistently sip water between drinks and often enough that you aren’t becoming dehydrated. Remember that alcohol is a dehydrator, so after you have a drink, have at least 16oz. of water to make that deficit back. Also make sure that you are reapplying sunscreen to all of your body every few hours, or more depending on the strength and type of your SPF. Some SPFs are water resistant, so they will stay even if you go swimming—but that doesn’t mean they won’t wear off after two hours. You need to make sure that you are protecting your skin. Even if you are sitting in shade while on the boat, UV rays can still reach you and give you a bad time. Check-in with everyone (and yourself) often.
Protect Everyone Aboard
Everyone likes to bring their friends on the water. But a lot of people will also bring living creatures that cannot protect or take care of themselves. Kids are a consistent thing on boats, even though many of them cannot swim. Dogs are also a normalized thing now, and they are in need of their own types of protection. It’s not enough to have these creatures around you and within eyesight, because you can easily become distracted. Instead, make sure that you have everything prepared for them just in case something happens.
For kids, ensure that they are always wearing their life vests—especially if they are not an experienced swimmer or are under 14. If you suspect that they would freeze up should they fall off the boat, make sure they are aware of how to use the vests and the protocol for what they should do if that happens. Also make sure that they are continuously drinking water and are reapplying their sunscreen, since skin cancer can come later on in life. For dogs, you’ll want to take more precautions, since they can’t tell you when something is wrong. Make sure that they have access to water that is in shade or that has ice in it, as the sun on the water will heat up the boat significantly and they need to cool off their bodies quickly. Further, make sure that there is a shaded spot of them to lay down if they need to, and put shoes on them to protect their feet from the hot boat. If your dog is not an experienced swimmer, put an animal life vest on them as well—just in case they want to chase a dolphin.
Make and Stick to Your Checklist
Before you go, make a checklist and don’t leave until everything on it is done. Some of the most important things that you will want to include is a list of all of your needed safety equipment, a boat examination, check the weather conditions, check your levels and electronics on the boat (don’t leave with low battery phones), create and stick to a float plan (give it to people who will not be on the boat), and consider taking a boat safety course. By checking everything off this list (and whatever else you have added), you’ll be better prepared for anything that can happen on the water.
Don’t Get into the Water
Okay, yes, that sounds ominous, but you are not going to want to get into the water unless you know what is in it with you. If this is your first-time boating in an unfamiliar lake or body, you should consider getting some advice on the water itself. If there is a bacterium that was recently found in the water, you may still want to boat, but choosing to get into the water may be a bad choice. Get local knowledge about the water before you go, so that you can be prepared for any hazards that the locals tend to run into while boating.
Boating is a fun and social activity for many people. But making sure that you are as safe as possible will ensure that you are having the most amount of fun possible. Organize yourself before you leave, and you’ll be better prepared for anything that happens. According to Florida drowning accident lawyer Taryn Stein, of Stein Law, “learning to swim is only one way to stay safe when it comes to being on the water. Knowing when the water is safe, never going alone, and avoiding anything that could slow your reaction speed also play a role.” If you or someone on your boat is not a great swimmer, consider taking swimming lessons at a local aquatic center. It will help you become a confident swimmer and avoid those in-water accidents.