No matter how much experience you have, it’s always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before departures. Read below to familiarize yourself with these 10 basic boating safety tips:
- Be Weather-wise
Always check local weather conditions for boating safety before departure – TV, radio and website forecasts can be a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
- Follow a Pre-Departure Checklist
Proper boating safety means being prepared for any possibility on the water. From compliance with fire safety regulations to tips for fueling up, following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten.
- Use Common Sense
One of the most important parts of boating safety is to use your common sense. This means operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be alert at all times, and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there for one reason only – to ensure your own boating safety.
- Designate an Assistant Skipper
Make sure more than only one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and other boating safety tips. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore.
- Develop a Float Plan
Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your float plan in terms of where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone. A float plan can include the following information: name, address, and phone number of trip leader: name and number of all passengers; boat type and registration information; trip itinerary; types of communication and signal equipment onboard.
- Make Proper Use of Lifejackets
Did you know that the majority of drowning victims as the result of boating accidents were found not to be wearing a Lifejacket? Make sure that your family and friends aren’t part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your onboard team with a Lifejacket-prior to departure.
- Avoid Alcohol
Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved, and studies have also shown that the affect of alcohol is exacerbated by external effects such as sun and wind.
- Learn to Swim
If you’re going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety means knowing how to swim. So check to see what classes are offered in your area!
- Do Your Skipper’s Course
Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements in South Africa now demand by law that all those skippering a boat with more than 15HP engine capacity must have a valid Inland/ Sheltered Waters Skipper’s license. This requirement will do much to ensure that those on the water are now educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance which was most definitely not the case before.
- Ensure your Boat Completes its Annual Certificate of Fitness (COF) Survey
By law your boat has to undergo an annual Safety Check by a qualified SAMSA representative who needs to verify the presence and condition of certain Safety Equipment based on your Category rating. Although sometimes perceived by some as unnecessary, It’s never a bad idea to have a qualified ‘outsider’ check over your boat as ultimately it’s your safety and that of your family and friends which will be at stake.