Boat Safety Overview

By: Celeste Izon

Humans are land mammals, but we sure love our time in the water. People will go to great lengths to travel to cool northern lakes in the summer, and hot southern beaches in winter. A vacation just isn't the same without spending time in the water.

Boating is both an exhilarating sport and a relaxing hobby. Whether your idea of "fun" is speeding through the surf or paddling along a quiet stream, water is the perfect backdrop for a day of unbridled freedom. Water is fun and relaxing, but it does command utmost respect. There can be a lot of danger to participating in water sports, and the smartest boaters are always the safest boaters.

Wear a Flotation Device

A personal flotation device (PFD) is an absolute must for all boaters. Every boater should expect the unexpected and be prepared. Weather is completely unpredictable, and a fast-moving storm can turn the waters from calm to calamity in an instant. Other boats and unseen hazards can bring about a collision or cause you to capsize. Even the most experienced boaters face unexpected dangers on the water. That's why everyone on the boat, including the boat operator, must wear a personal flotation device. This is especially important for young children, as they are at most risk of injury or drowning. It's not only smart to wear a PFD, it's the law in many places.

Stay on Your Safety Course

Experience boaters and nautical novices alike should taking boating safety courses. Most areas offer free courses, and the lessons can usually be completed in a day or two. Enroll yourself, and your entire family. Kids are never too young to learn about boat safety. If you have trouble finding safety courses in your city, see what you can find online. The Internet is a great resource for all types of courses and training programs.

Just Say No

Operating watercraft takes keen sense and, sometimes, rapid reflexes. Using drugs or alcohol will impair your judgment and slow your reflexes. Even prescription drugs can take a dangerous toll on your boat safety. In most areas, the impairment laws imposed upon automobile drivers affect watercraft drivers in the same capacity. Your craft and someone's life can be at stake if you use alcohol or drugs on the water.

Be Surf Smart

Boat safety is ultimately about sensibility. Be aware of the extent of your abilities. Know whether you can make intelligent, split-second decisions. What will you do if another boat suddenly veers toward you? How will you help a buddy that falls from his water skis and disappears from your line of sight? It can happen, and you'll need to have the common sense to make the right decision. Know your options and you'll be better prepared.

Respect Rules

Respect on the water is just as important as respect on the highway. Be aware of other boaters and respect their rights to share the water. Other boaters need to be able to see you in the blinding sun of daytime and the deep dark night. Keep within the water speed limit. Follow the rules of the waterway. Respect your passengers and your own safety, as well. No one is impressed when you show off and take risks.

Maintain Your Boat

A well-maintained boat is a safe boat. Know how to maintain your boat and fix it in the event of breakdown or collision on the water. Check the boat and motor often to ensure that everything is in good working order. Keep a maintenance record of your boat, just as you do for your car.

From relaxing evenings trolling for bass to exhilarating afternoons of extreme water skiing, nothing beats a day on the water. Safety is always most important, so always make it your first priority.

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Author Celeste Izon loves writing for numerous web sites, on outdoor recreation sources and parks and recreation guides.
This and other unique content boating safety articles are available with free reprint rights.

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