Author: Nathan Heinicke-Peart
When you decide to go for a sail, race a boat, or go kayaking, tubing, or canoeing, the open-water is a great way to enjoy some relaxation, ease your stress levels, and have some recreation. On the water, time seems to slow down and cares melt away. At the same time, boating holds its share of challenges and risks. The Coast Guard reported almost 4,500 boating accidents in 2016, with over 700 fatalities and almost 3,000 injuries.
In most cases, boaters cannot see what is below the surface of the water, so the depth of the water is unknown. Currents may swirl beneath the surface and submerged objects may pose risks to boaters of all ages and abilities. Here are some tips to help you take your boat out safely and enjoy your time sailing, paddling or boating.
Research the Weather
When you go out in the open water, check the local weather to see the conditions of the waves, depth, and tides before you leave on your adventure. You can always look at local TV and radio forecasts for this information. Also understand that weather can change rapidly. A sunny and calm morning can turn into a rain storm, rough waves, and darkness in a short time span:
Have at Least Two People Who Can Navigate the Boat
When you take your boat out for an adventure, most of the people on the boat should know the basics of swimming and boating. If you do not know the basics, make sure that at least two people with you are familiar with all aspects of your boat, kayak, or canoe and general boating and safety.
Always Use Life jackets
The majority of drowning victims that are related to boaters are from not wearing life jackets. To prevent these accidents, all people on the boat MUST wear life jackets or preservers.
When you are in doubt, it is best to wear it, even you are sitting on the boat.
Boating experts and analysts say that alcohol and boating do not mix well. The driver of the boat should drink no alcohol until the boat is safely moored on shore. Passengers should try to avoid alcohol as well.
Learn to Swim
Of course, if you’re going to be in and around the water, boating safety includes knowing how to swim. Whatever your age or abilities, consider taking lessons to prepare you for any sort of challenge in the water.
Know the Weight Limit of your Boat
When you have a boat, please look at how many people and how much weight you can take on the boat. You should always know how many people can fit on the boat comfortably and safely, and how many pounds your boat can hold.
Always use Caution when on a Tube
Tubing is another fun activity that is popular here in Richmond. However, you do need to be safe with tubes as well. As a tuber, you must always check waves and water levels.
Even for advanced tubers, caution is still required. Tubes can flip in high water and rapids, and it is a good idea to go slowly and avoid being carried farther along by currents than you intended.
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