BoatTEST.com strongly encourages you to take the following steps to improve safety on the water and help make sure that a day of boating starts and ends well.
- Take a boating safety education course before leaving the dock or marina, even if it isn’t required by state law, or if you’ve been boating for years. Encourage your spouse and children to attend. The education of your boating family is YOUR responsibility.
- Learn and follow all local navigation rules. The rules of the road are just as important as the rules you drive your car by on the highways. Using them with common sense will keep you out of trouble.
- Stay sober and never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving a boat under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as a in a car. Alcohol is responsible for a disproportionately high number of boating deaths.
- Get a vessel safety inspection which is offered free by many organizations, it assures boats are equipped with proper safety gear and the vessel is in “sea worthy” condition. Then know your equipment and how to use it.
- Learn the use of flare signals, and hand signals to alert other boaters that you have a problem and need help.
- Never let anyone ride on the bow of your boat, even at slow speeds. Keep the guests safe and they will enjoy the experience. You are in command and their safety is your responsibility.
- Pay attention around you and behind you. Be aware of approaching boats, the currents, sea conditions, and always have a rescue plan for your passengers and yourself. Make sure everyone aboard knows how to use the VHF radio.
- Keep the water out of your boat. Know your boat, where the thru hulls are located and plugs to stop leaks. Check for leaks from time to time. Make sure your automatic bilge pump is working.
- Always wear a lifevest, and wetsuit bottoms and lifevest in the case of personal watercraft. Lack of this important lifesaving device is the most common cause of loss of life on the water.
- Respect the sea, and water…and render assistance when you see it is needed. You may be the next one needing help.
Boating safety courses are available through many organizations, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (http://nws.cgaux.org/) and the U.S. Power Squadrons (http://www.usps.org/). Boaters should contact their state boating law agency (http://www.nasbla.org/) for more information about where and when these courses are available.