Stay safe on the water
As more people take advantage of the weather to take their boats out on the water, it’s important not to take the accompanying safety issues lightly. By preparing before getting out on local lakes and rivers, people can help avoid tragedy while having a good time.
Double-checking the day’s weather report before going out to the water is a good start. It’s useful advice for boaters, swimmers, and others planning on going out to the water; being caught in the water in a storm or other inclement weather can be hazardous. Boaters may find their vessels capsizing or dragged aground, while swimmers run the risk of drowning in choppy water.
The U.S. Coast Guard has several pieces of advice to help boaters prepare for a day on the water, starting with a float plan. The Coast Guard recommends arranging your route and timetable in advance and writing it down, along with information about your boat, radio information, home port, passengers, phone numbers and gear. This information should then be left with someone on land who can relay it to the Coast Guard if necessary.
The Coast Guard recommends a float plan for any sort of vessel going on the water, from kayakers, jet skiers and anglers, to people riding on sailboats, motorboats, or even yachts.
It is also important to wear a life jacket when on the water. Every state in the U.S. has laws requiring children to wear life jackets, and for boats to meet Coast Guard requirements, they need to have a jacket onboard for each passenger aboard the vessel. The jackets are designed to keep a person’s head above water, and are invaluable in rough water, in case of injury, or when heavy clothes make it difficult to swim.
Proper maintenance of a boat is also important to make sure everything is functioning properly, and to make sure it is watertight. It’s important to check flares, life jackets, and other emergency equipment as well, at least once a year to make sure it is still in good shape.
The Coast Guard also suggests taking boater safety courses, which are offered throughout the state.
Whether you’re heading onto the AuSable River, one of the Great Lakes, a river, or a smaller lake, being prepared ahead of time is simply a good idea to follow.