Now that the weather is beginning to get warmer and summer is just around the corner, many people will be taking to the water for some fun in the sun. While enjoying your time, it is important to remember that water safety is crucial in order to protect yourself and others. Below are some tips on how to achieve that while you are boating.
Take a Boat Safety Course!
In the State of Connecticut, it is required that every boat operator obtain a safe boating certificate (SBC) before operating any type of vessel. In order to procure this, an approved boating safety course is required to be taken. While an initial course is required for the certification, it is also a good idea to periodically take a refresher course. This will ensure that the boat operator is educated and confidant enough to be able to handle an emergency on the water if needed.
In pursuance of preparing for a possible boating accident or any other type of emergency that can happen while boating, it is crucial that the boat operator maintains certain things on board:
- Flotation Devices – A life jacket for each person on board is required. Furthermore, in the event of an accident there will not always be enough time to put the life jacket on, which is why it is always a good idea to have it on from the start of the trip to the end.
- First Aid Kit – A standard first aid kit should be checked and re-stocked before any adventure on the water. This would include aspirin, band aids, gauze, cleansing pads, sunscreen, etc. Check to make sure that all items with an expiration date are far from expiring and that everything is in good condition to be used in an emergency.
- Fire Extinguisher – A fire extinguisher that is in proper working order should always be available in a highly accessible place on board any boat. In the event an engine fire or any other type of fire starts while the boat is away from land, every second counts in order to save the lives of all passengers on board. Having a fire extinguisher nearby can mean the difference between a small amount of damage, and total destruction of the vessel.
- Cell Phone/VHF Radio – Having a phone to be able to communicate with rescue sources while boating is imperative. Most everyone now keeps a cell phone on them at all times, and having at least one on the boat is needed. However, depending upon where you are, cell phone signals can sometimes be nonexistent and inoperable, especially in the middle of a large body of water. In this circumstance, a VHF Radio kept on board can be used to communicate with rescue personnel or other boats that may be nearby and able to assist.
- Signal Devices – In the event of distress, signaling devices can help other boats in the area or rescue personnel to locate you, especially if you have no other ability to communicate with them. Keeping both day time and night time devices in working order on board should be as routine as refreshing the first aid kit. These devices include flares, horns, distress flags, etc.
- Anchor & Tow Ropes – Having an anchor on board is needed if the boat comes upon bad weather, so that the boat can stay as stable as possible until the weather passes. It should also be used in the event of engine failure to keep the boat from drifting. In addition, having extra tow ropes on board will help if you or another fellow boater becomes stranded.
Watch for Other Water Activities
While you are enjoying your time on the water, it is important for you to remember that others are enjoying theirs as well. At any given time you may come upon swimmers, jet skiers, paddle boarders, water skiers, kayakers, canoers, etc., depending upon the type and location of the water that you are in. Boating accidents do not always just involve the singular boat, sometimes they occur due to lack of visibility of other activities going on. Whether drifting, or boating at moderate to high speeds, always keep a vigilant eye for other water activities around you.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Boating while intoxicated or under the influence is against the law, just as with operating any type of vehicle or vessel. Because alcohol affects judgment, coordination, vision and balance, it can easily lead to an accident on the water. In fact, a large percentage of boating accidents occur because the operator is under the influence. For the safety of all passengers on board, it is critical that the operator is alert and cautious at all times.
Operating any type of vehicle or vessel can be fun, but also dangerous – and boating is no exception. While enjoying time with friends and family this summer, remember that safety is paramount and in order to maximize your enjoyment, you must be well prepared and alert.
In the event that you or someone you know has been or becomes involved in a boating accident in the State of Connecticut, contact The Kaufmann Law Offices today for a free personal consultation at (203) 454-7859.