Boating Safety Tips That Will Save Your Life

Wednesday May 24, 2017

For many, swimming and boating are synonymous with summer fun.  However, there are many hazards that come along with these leisurely summer activities. 

Just like your home, it is critical that you have your boat inspected regularly by a licensed electrician and that you are familiar with the electrical system so you can identify and correct any potential hazards.  


The following safety tips will also help you enjoy boating safely with your friends and family:


Never allow swimming near the boat, marina, or launching ramp.


Residual current could flow into the water from the boat, or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of Electric Shock Drowning. 
Electric Shock Drowning occurs when a body makes contact with electrified water and becomes a conductor of electricity leading to the possibility of complete loss of muscle control, rapid or irregular heart beat (ventricular fibrillation), and even electric shock death.


Check the weather forecast before you go boating
.  

Be aware of the day’s weather and change your plans if a storm is in the forecast. If you are swimming, fishing or boating and there are clouds, dark skies and distant rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning, get to land immediately and seek shelter. If you are in a boat and cannot get to shore, crouch down in the middle of the boat. Go below if possible.


Use the Right Tool.


Never use household cords near water. Use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL- Marine Listed” when using electricity near water.


Be sure your boat is properly maintained.

Consider having it inspected annually. GFCIs and ELCIs should be tested monthly to ensure functionality. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel. Know your craft and check it before each use to be sure it is in water-safe condition. Carry any required or recommended safety equipment on board. If you are operating a motorboat, make sure you have enough fuel and that all systems are working properly. 

Know Your Surroundings. 

Know where your main breaker(s) are located on both the boat and the shorepower source so that you can respond quickly in case of an emergency. Be aware of any potential electrical hazards by checking for nearby power lines before boating, fishing, or swimming.


Do not overload your boat
.

Be sure you know the craft’s maximum capacity for both people and weight, and don’t carry more.


Always wear a properly fitting life jacket and outfit children with lifejackets
.

Many adults who are strong swimmers simply toss their lifejackets in the boat or canoe and believe they don’t need them because of their swimming
 skills. But water temperature, distance from shore, and other factors can make swimming more difficult than you expect in the event of an accident or a problem with your craft. And if your craft, a paddle, or anything else hits you in the head and renders you unconscious when your boat tips over or is involved in an accident, the best swimming skills in the world won’t help. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims.


Don’t drink alcohol while out on the water or operating a watercraft
.

It’s just common sense – alcohol impairs your ability to think and act quickly and efficiently. You should be physically able to handle any situation and mentally clear while operating a boat or spending time on any body of water. This is critical for your own safety as well as for the safety of other boaters and of swimmers who might be in the water.


Watch for swimmers.

Regardless of the type of craft you’re using, always keep an eye out for swimmers and keep a safe distance away from anyone who is in the water.


As with any outdoor activity, the best way to be safe while boating is to learn all you can about it before you take part. Take a safety course, become licensed if required, learn everything you need to know about any craft that you own, borrow, or rent, and don’t give in to any temptation to break the rules. That momentary decision to skip the life jacket just once could lead to an unnecessary tragedy.



 

 

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