Safety First on the Fourth!! posted June 24th, 2016

Picnics, boating and fireworks ~ The 4th of July is almost here!

Be sure that you and your passengers are safe on the water.  Did you know that more than 1/3 of all boating related accidents and fatalities happen on the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day?  And on the 4th of July, you usually add the danger of night vision and distractions of fireworks in the sky to the boating experience.

Have fun and be safe out there!!

Here are 7 tips from the US Coast Guard on having a safe 4th of July on the water.

1~ Always wear a life jacket.  You never know when an accident can happen, and good swimmers drown.  80% of people who die in boating accidents are not wearing a life jacket.  It’s like your seat belt on the water – make it a habit, it could save your life!

2~ Make sure your boat is properly equipped and functioning.  If you’re going out at night to see fireworks, and why wouldn’t you, make sure your navigation lights work so you can be seen.  It is also a good idea to have a spotlight and of course that flashlight in your toolkit.  You can request a FREE Vessel Safety Check (http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/) to make sure your boat has everything legally required and recommended onboard.

3~ Be prepared for emergencies.  Make sure that everyone on board knows the basic emergency procedures: how to call authorities on the radio and cell phone, where the first aid kit is, and how to use the flares (check the expiration date before leaving).  When accidents happen, we often freeze and don’t know what to do, so have a plan just in case you need to react to an emergency situation.

4~ Don’t drink and drive your boat.  You wouldn’t drink all day and drive your car, so why would you drive your boat under the influence?  Never drink and drive your boat, ever!  If passengers decide to drink alcohol, remember that the sun, waves and wind can intensify the effects of alcohol and turn a nice day on the water into a miserable sea sick day.  Be careful when alcohol is onboard.

5~ File a float plan with a friend.  Like pilots submit a flight plan, boaters should let someone on land know where they are planning to go, just in case something goes wrong and you don’t return home as planned.  Be courteous and let them know when you get home safely each time.  Your float plan should list who is going, where you’re going, a description of the boat, and when you plan to be back.  Don’t share it with the Coast Guard, leave that to your trusted friend if you don’t check in after a fun day of boating.  Floatplancentral.org for a complete plan along with instructions.

6~ Keep your eyes open and pay attention to what is going on around you.  Look out for other boaters, the weather, passengers in tow or anything unusual.  Report any emergencies to local authorities by calling 911 or VHF-FM Channel 16.  Any suspicious activity that might involve terrorism should be reported to America’s Waterway Watch at 877-24-WATCH.

7~ Practice the 3 C’s – Caution, Courtesy and Common Sense.  Slow down when you are in close proximity of other boaters or in a no wake zone, be respectful of other boaters and the environment, and use general common sense!  Smile, wave and enjoy the glory of the boating life!!!

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