Boating Safety Tips for the Summer
Summer is the perfect time for an adventure on the water, whether you’re motoring the Gulf Coast, sailing in Georgia’s lakes or kayaking in the Great Smoky Mountains. But any boating trip also comes with risks, and it’s worth the extra time and effort to avoid potential tragedies. We’ve put together some boating safety tips to help make sure your summer fun creates memories that will last a lifetime.
Most people wouldn’t consider sipping on an alcoholic beverage while driving a car, and drinking while boating should be no different. Alcohol impairs your judgment, slows your reflexes and limits senses you’ll need to pilot a craft, like vision and balance. Drinking beyond the legal blood alcohol content level of 0.08 also opens you up to a BUI, with penalties similar to a DUI conviction.
Wear your life jacket
According to the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Safety Council, 76 percent of boating deaths are due to drowning. Of those victims, more than 84 percent were not wearing life jackets. Make sure your boat has a life jacket for every person on board. Kids need to have properly fitted life jackets that keep their heads above water even if they’re unconscious or unable to do so themselves. Swimmies, water wings or other types of floats that help kids learn to swim are not substitutes for boating life jackets. If you’re bringing your pooch onboard, also consider investing in a dog life jacket.
Watch the weather
Always check local forecasts before you head out on the water. High winds or rough water can capsize your boat or overwhelm even an experienced boater. In water that’s less than 70 degrees, hypothermia sets in quickly. If you’re already out and the weather begins to turn, don’t chance it. It’s better to have a few hours of plans disrupted by the weather than to find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Always share your float plan with a family member, friend or marina staff member. This should include information about your boat, its safety features, contact information, names of everyone on board and your plan for where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Before you head out, go through your pre-departure checklist. You can find more details on Discover Boating, but a checklist typically includes tasks like ensuring you have a throwable device, a sound producing device, distress signals and enough life jackets for each passenger.
If you’ve invested in a boat, it’s worth investing your time in the safety of your passengers as well. It’s simple to find boating safety courses in Georgia. You can also check out the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to find in-person classroom opportunities. If you don’t know how to swim, commit to learning this summer! There are dozens of adult swim classes offered throughout Atlanta, with one sure to fit your schedule. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is also a helpful resource for boaters of any skill level. You can set up a free vessel safety check to ensure your boat is in good condition.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, you need a personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the accident attorneys at Litner + Deganian for a free consultation at our office, conveniently located in Druid Hills near Emory and Decatur.