Bodies of water are the second most common scene for accidental deaths in the United States, the first being highways, and of that the top boating accidents are from collisions which involve recreational vessels and fixed objects. Many boaters believe that because they are in the open water it would be nearly impossible to be involved in a boating collision. This is not the case. Boaters must always be alert to floating debris, underwater rocks, and other boats or you could easily get yourself into a dangerous situation. Here are a few guidelines to follow to improve your safety while on the open water:
- Take a Boating Course- New York has specific requirements for operating boats and personal watercraft (Wave runners). Educating yourself with the rules and regulations of our area is above all the most important in staying safe.
- Don’t drink and boat – Just like drinking and driving, drinking while boating is very dangerous! Alcohol use is the foremost contributing factor in lethal boating accidents, accounting for every 1 in 5 reported fatalities. Operator distractions, irresponsibility, and extreme speeding are the main contributing factors in all reported accidents.
- Wear a life jacket that fits you well – Life jackets are being made more attractive and comfortable to wear. However, this means nothing if the life vest you wear doesn’t fit you well enough to support your individual body weight and has a possibility of slipping off of you.
- Check the forecast-Weather can look beautiful one minute and then vicious the next. Listen to the weather channel on your VHF (Very High Frequency) radio and use caution if the weather calls for storm warnings.
- Have fire extinguishers on board (it’s the law!) - Just because you’re surrounded by water doesn’t mean you’re safe from fires! Shipboard fire extinguishers need to be effective against fires from flammable liquids and it’s best to keep extinguishers at front and back areas of the boat.
- Fuel up correctly- Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can spread rapidly into enclosed spaces. Make sure to run your vessels blower for at least 5 minutes after fueling up to remove gasoline vapors; you wouldn’t want your personal watercraft to disappear into a flaming ball of fire!
With warm weather come more boaters. Boating may seem like a walk in the park, but accidents occur daily and some are fatal. If you do not have any experience in boating then don’t think you can just head out on the water. Make sure you are educated on how to operate your water vessel and being aware of your surroundings to stay safe. And like your automobile or motorcycle, be sure you contact a local Trusted Choice Independent insurance agent to discuss your insurance alternatives for boats, wave runners & yachts!