SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The National Safe Boating council in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard has designated this as National Safe Boating Week. This program has been established to promote the safe operation of boats as we head into the summer months which is peak season for boating.
The National Safe Boating Council has a lot of advice on how to keep you and your passengers safe while out on the water.
First, wear a life jacket at all times. Accidents on the water can happen quickly and there may not be enough time to react to put on a life jacket that is in storage. Be sure to have the appropriate number of life jackets for every passenger who is on board and that they are the proper size. Child size life jackets will not work for adults just a adult size life jackets will not fit children properly. They also recommend having the proper kind of life jackets for the activity you are engaging in on the water.
Know your boat. Having too many people for the size of your boat may make it unstable and make the risk of capsizing it greater. Have your boat inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for safety. They will check it to make sure it is in safe condition and how many people your boat can safely carry. These safety inspections are done free of charge to the boat owner.
For more information on safety checks: http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=V-DEPT&category=i-want-a-vsc
In order to safely operate your boat out in the open water, take a boating safety course. These courses can help you to potentially safe your and your passengers lives if unexpected situations occur. You also need to know state boating laws and rules. By not knowing, the penalties may be severe including substantial fines and even jail. Following navigation rules and operating at safe speeds for the environment is a must.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources: https://gadnrle.org/boating-rules-regulations
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/education/boated.html
Know the weather. Before heading out on the water, always check the marine forecast for wind and wave heights along with the water temperature. Stay weather aware by tuning into the marine forecast with your NOAA weather radio.
Dress for the weather and have and extra change of clothing. Hypothermia, when your body temperature drops below 95°F, can happen in water that is as warm as 75 – 80°F.
For more information about weather radios: https://www.weather.gov/marine/wxradio
Communication is important for while you are on the water and even before you head out. Let family or friends you trust know where you plan on going by giving them a Float Plan. Give them vital information such as a description of the boat, vehicle towing the boat and the kind of communication equipment you have onboard in case of an emergency.
For information about float plans: http://floatplancentral.cgaux.org/
Cell phones are not reliable during boating emergencies due to the possibility of being out of the range of service and they do not function once they become wet. It is recommended that you have two devices that you can communicate with once they become wet including VHF radios, personal locator beacons, and satellite phones.
Gasoline powered boats produce carbon monoxide in their exhaust and can be poisonous to you and your passengers if exhaust pipes and vents are blocked. Also while docking, anchoring, or beaching your boat stay at least 20 feet away from other boats that are running or operating generators.
Finally, do not operate your boat while consuming alcohol. Nearly 15% of boating deaths lists alcohol use as the leading cause.
For more information: https://www.nasbla.org/operationdrywater/home
Following these guidelines while operating your boat will keep you and everyone onboard safe.