Boat Safety Necessities You Shouldn’t Set Sail Without

Father And Son Riding Motor Boat Wearing Life JacketsSummers in New England can be full of good fun. Since our time for warm weather is limited here in the Northeast, so many of us try to make the most of it by participating in all kinds of outdoorsy things, including boating. While it can be easy to get carried away in all this seasonal fun, we can’t let that cloud our judgment when it comes to taking the proper precautions to protect against harm amid these recreational activities. As we get ready to hit the open waters once again, let’s review some boat safety necessities. 

Why Reviewing Safe Boating Practices Is Critical 

Maybe you’re a veteran boater, a strong swimmer, or you only go boating on a small lake near your home and you think the dangers of boating don’t apply to your situation. Well, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,438 boating injuries in 2021, 658 of which resulted in deaths. No matter what your experience, skillset, and environment look like, reviewing these safe boating practices could be what saves your life or someone else’s someday. 

Four Boat Safety Necessities 

Here are our top four “musts” regarding boat safety.  

1. Wear Life Jackets 

We’ll start with the most obvious of boat safety necessities: life jackets. Whether your watercraft is motorized or not, the National Safe Boating Council encourages you to always wear a life jacket—or personal floatation device (PFD)—when aboard. Note that different states have different regulations for PFDs. In Massachusetts, all personal watercraft (PWC) users, water skiers, and children under 12 years old are required to wear a PFD. Keep in mind that these are only useful when worn properly; make sure it’s the right fit for your size and weight and that it’s fastened tightly.  

To be clear: the advice to wear a life jacket still stands regardless of how good a swimmer you are. When people fall off a boat, they can become disoriented, injured, or unconscious. Life jackets can keep victims’ heads above water so they can breathe and be rescued more easily.  

2. Get Educated and Be Prepared 

Boater education and license requirements also vary by state, but even if yours doesn’t mandate it, you should consider taking a boater safety education course for a more comprehensive understanding of the do’s and don’ts. You’ll be aware of boating laws in your area, know what equipment is needed on board (like first aid kits, flotation devices, and tools), and have a better idea of common boating hazards. 

3. Exercise Good Judgment 

It’s difficult to teach common sense, but in the case of boating, we can at least offer a few ways you can exercise good judgment:  

  • Don’t drink and drive a boat. This is for the same reason you don’t drink and drive a car: alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. 
  • Pay attention to the weather while aboard; If you notice storm clouds, a sudden drop in temperature, or wind speeds getting higher, get off the water. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Always be mindful of your surroundings, your passengers’ whereabouts, and other watercraft/swimmers in the water. In general: have situational awareness so you can react appropriately in an instant.

4. Boat Insurance

Just like your home and car, your boat needs to have insurance coverage to protect yourself and others from any liability or damages that may occur due to an accident. Depending on your specific policy, this insurance can cover physical damage, liability, theft, medical payments, docking fenders, and more.  

Ready to set sail? Now that you’ve reviewed these boat safety necessities, you should be well prepared to get out on the water and soak up that sun—as long as the weather is cooperating! If you want to check on your boat insurance policy or are interested in switching providers to get a lower rate, contact us. From all of us here at TJ Woods: Happy Boating!