Sponsored by the National Safe Boating Council, Inc., May 20th through 26th is observed as National Safe Boating Week. Probably, many of you who have gotten out those dusty boats and launched them already. It’s time for some fun and sun on the water! There’s nothing more fun than going fishing, skiing, or just a leisure ride in a boat, but please take boating safety seriously. Be sure you have plenty of suncreen, a hat, and safety sunglasses that keep harmful UV rays from damaging your eyes!
The National Safe Boating Council, Inc. (NSBC) was organized in September of 1958. The NSBC has a current membership of over 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations, all interested in boating safety and education. This article includes a common-sense agreement regarding the responsibility that you owe yourself and your friends and family any time you operate a boat. If you wish to sign this pledge, you can go to the National Safe Boating Council website. If not, please take the pledge to heart, as accidents can happen, and many times it is because the persons in charge of the boat are not familiar with the proper handling of it.
Search for information regarding boater education and what you need to know, as well as the five types of life jackets (PDF’s) – personal flotation devices, that are available. There are many other resources that one should seek before taking off in that new boat. Safety is the big thing when it comes to operating a boat. Many lives are in the hands of the driver, the same as a vehicle on the road.
Regardless of where you are boating – in fresh or salt water, on a river or a lake, the one common thread throughout this article is the importance of wearing a life jacket. In about 80% of all fatal boating accidents, the cause of death is drowning. In 90% of those drownings, the person wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Each person on your boat should have a life jacket on; it won’t help if it’s under the seat when they fall in. Life jackets are not as bulky as in the past; there are many styles that are comfortable and easy to put on. It may be hot, but it sure beats the risk of drowning. Life jackets are available for your dogs, too. It isn’t easy to “dog paddle” to safety, so it’s much easier to rescue them if they have their life jacket on.
Check the weather conditions before you start your boating trip. If the water becomes rough, get to the shore as soon as possible. Be sure you have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit on your boat. Having a second person that knows the operation of your boat doubles your chances of staying safe, just in case. A very important part of boating safety is common sense. Operate at a safe speed, stay clear of large vessels, and be respectful of other boaters. Staying safe in a boat (everyone) is accomplished when the alcohol is saved for later. Chances of being involved in a boating accident are doubled when alcohol is involved.
Beginning boaters and experts alike should be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. State boater education requirements vary by state. Be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that may arise. The U.S. Coast Guard offers free Vessel Safety Checks. They offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the condition of certain safety equipment that is required by State and Federal regulations. They also offer virtual online safety checks as well. Please make the decision to honor the rules of boating safety for yourself, family, and friends.
Here is a sample of the NSBC pledge card: Get on Board for Boating Safety:
|Pledge Card: Get on Board for Boating Safety|
Sources: NSBC, discoverboating.com