Now that March has roared in like a lion and gone out like a lamb, GEICO Insurance Agency has recommended 10 safety tips to make sure that cottage owners and their guests can be as safe as possible in the upcoming boating season.
The tips include such pointers as wearing life jackets, taking boater safety courses, learning waterway rules, performing preventative boat maintenance, and operating water vehicles at safe speeds.
In order to make sure boaters are driving safely, they must do the same basic things as when they’re operating a car. Instead of seat belts, the U.S. Coast Guard mandates that all recreational boaters carry life jackets, and advise that they be worn at all time. In lieu of defensive driving courses, boater safety courses help people learn about proper boating regulations, waterway rules and what safety precautions need to be practiced while on the water.
These tips are especially important when considering the accident statistics of 2012. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center, the top five primary types of accidents were: collisions with other boats, flooding, collisions with fixed objects, grounding, and skier mishaps. The amount of injuries these accidents caused were respectively: 711, 193, 340, 244, and 388. Worse, the amount of deaths that these accidents caused were respectively: 47, 68, 50, 10, and 20.
GEICO’s list also included such pointers as: avoiding drunk boating, installing carbon monoxide detectors, guarding against hypothermia, creating float plans, and checking weather forecasts.
To guard against hypothermia, boaters shouldn’t get in waters when the temperatures is less than 59 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also important for boaters to bring dry clothing sealed in waterproof bags, and to never go out alone.
A float plan includes such info as the time boaters leave, the time they expect to return, where they’re going, and what route they’ll take to get there. The point of having a float plan is to let others know these details so that officials can expedite the rescue process if an accident occurs.
“You want a stable dock, not something that is rocking back and forth. You also need something that is properly anchored,” explains Peter Cramp, President of Porch to Pier. “Make sure that it is the right size to handle whatever vessel that will be tied to it. The next thing is to make sure that you have a proper ramp with handrails that is not too steep when you’re going ashore. It needs a good enough surface with a good amount of traction.”
While these tips are important to heed, there is one general piece of advice missing from the list–boaters can be as safe as possible if they just practice common sense, and air on the side of caution.