Boating Safety Made Easy All Summer Long
July 1, 2016
During May's National Safe Boating Week, many boaters made extra effort to improve their on-water safety. But, after the annual event was over, will they continue to stay vigilant?
"Making boating safety easy to embrace means more boaters will continue to make the effort," says BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water President Chris Edmonston. With that goal in mind, the BoatUS Foundation has three simple tips for boaters that will improve their boating safety game all summer long:
1. Select a life jacket that you will actually wear: Consistently wearing a life jacket may be a challenge for some boaters, but it doesn't have to be. Inflatable life jackets can be as unobtrusive as a small, lightweight beltpack worn around the waist or suspenders style inflatable worn over the shoulders.
They don't trap body heat, and give full mobility needed to cast a line or trim a mainsheet. "The best life jacket is the one you'll actually wear," says Edmonston, "And inflatables make it easy to wear because they're so comfortable that you forget you have it on." For more, go to BoatUS.org/inflatables.
2. Take a boating safety education course that's free and easy to get: Learning the rules of the road can be difficult for some boaters as they don't always have the time to take a Boating Safety Course. But all you need is a comfortable chair in front of computer or tablet to take the free online Boating Safety Course from the BoatUS Foundation.
Learning can be paused and picked up again as your schedule permits, and the courses meet boating safety education requirements in 34 states – and may even get you a discount on your boat insurance. For more, go to http://www.BoatUS.org/courses and click on "State Boating Safety Course."
3. File the uncomplicated float plan you'll do all year: What kind of float plan do you need? Simpler may be better. For most boaters who boat on familiar home waters, a float plan can be as easy as a text message to a friend or relative telling them where you are going, who is aboard, and what time you expect to return. And don't forget to close it out with a text message after you've returned.
If you're at a boat ramp, leaving the details of your trip on a piece of paper or on a float plan form and putting it in view on the dashboard of your tow vehicle is another simple way to do it. More detailed float plans such as the one offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary are also great if you have a need for more detail and coordination, such as for longer offshore passages.