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West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

Boating Safety Tips (Part I)

Being out on the water is a perfect way to relax and stay socially distant during the pandemic.  With more than 40,000 vessels registered in Palm Beach County, it is important to take certain safety measure before taking your boat out on the water.  Here are some important steps to consider before your next boating adventure.

1. Take a boating safety course

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that 70% of boating accidents are caused by operator error. Before you leave the dock, make sure you know the rules and your responsibilities. There are several online courses available, including a few free courses. The Boat US Foundation offers a free online boating safety course developed specifically for each individual state. The U.S. Coast Guard offers an additional list of online and hands-on courses for boating safety.

2. Get your boat checked

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons offer free Vessel Safety Checks. There is no charge, and there are no consequences if your boat doesn’t pass.

No matter how much you prepare to keep yourself, passengers and your boat safe, accidents can happen. Learn more about protecting your prized vessel with boat insurance.

3. Check for harmful fumes

After refueling your boat, open all the hatches and smell for fumes. If detected, don’t start the engine.

Carbon monoxide can accumulate in and around your boat and unexpectedly knock you or your guests unconscious. Be aware of all the places fumes and gases can accumulate, including:

  • Inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures
  • Enclosed spaces
  • Blocked exhaust outlets
  • Nearby boats
  • When your engine is idling, running at a slow speed or stopped

4. Check the weather and tides beforehand

Warm, sunny days are ideal for boating, but you can’t always predict when a storm will roll in. Varying gusts of wind and choppy water are signs of an approaching storm. And even if it’s a warm spring day, the water could instead reflect winter temperatures. In the event that your boat capsizes or you and your passengers get wet, make sure you have a plan to seek help and get dry.

5. Bring the proper life jackets

Life jackets do more than simply keep you afloat. Many are designed to turn an unconscious person face up and even help prevent hypothermia. By law, all boats must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. Some states also require children to wear life jackets at all times. Choose a life jacket that is right for your height and weight, plus:

  • Try it on before purchasing. Fasten the vest, hold your arms straight up over your head and have someone gently pull the top of the arm opening to make sure it fits snugly.
  • Auto and manual inflatable life vests can turn an unconscious wearer face up, but they require regular maintenance. They’re also not recommended for children under 16 years of age.
  • If you’re going fishing, look for a life jacket with pockets and straps to easily carry tackle and supplies.

There are many types of life jackets on the market. Make sure the one you buy is appropriate for your on-water activity.

Boating is a fun and relaxing sport for your entire family.  It is important to follow the proper safety measure to ensure a safe, fun day on the water.

This blog is written by attorney Sam Cohen, an avid fisherman and boat owner.

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