As we approach summer, the weather is quickly warming up. And if there’s one thing Americans love to do when the weather is warm, it’s spending time on the water. That means it’s the perfect time to talk about boating and how you, your family, and your friends can stay safe on the lake.
Lake Safety Tips Everyone Can Use
In 2015, one of the most recent years from which there is reliable data, the Coast Guard reported there were 4,158 recreational boating accidents involving 626 deaths and 2,613 injuries (costing roughly $42 million in damages to property). And this was just the result of official boating accidents. When you account for other common issues and ailments like sunburn and dehydration, thousands of additional people are affected each year.
It’s not that people go out on the water and act recklessly (even though sometimes they do). In most cases, they simply aren’t aware of their surroundings and don’t take the proper precautions to protect themselves and others.
Whether you own a boat, drive a boat, or are a passenger on a boat, there are steps you can and should take to stay safe on the lake this summer. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Properly Stock Your First Aid Kit
It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny fishing boat or a luxury yacht, a first aid kit is an absolute must-have on a boat. Some items you’ll want to include:
- A VHF radio
- Bandages, gauze, and tape
- Motion sickness tablets
- OTC pain relief medication
- Cold packs
- Sting relief wipes
- Bolt cutters (for removing hooks from skin)
- CPR mask
It’s hard to overdo a first aid kit. The more items you keep on hand, the more prepared you’ll be to handle any situation that’s thrown your way. But in addition to including these items, it’s also wise to get some professional training in key areas like CPR and tourniquet application.
Choose the Right Life Preservers
One of the best ways to keep people safe is to require life jackets. At a very minimum, the Coast Guard requires children under the age of 13 to wear a preserver at all times. It’s also smart for poor swimmers, elderly individuals, and anyone consuming alcohol to have a life jacket on hand.
Any life jacket is better than no life jacket, but it’s much safer if the preserver fits the individual in a correct manner. You can find information about the size and weight of the intended user on the inside label.
Once on, the wearer should buckle all straps and tighten all zippers. The individual should then lift their arms over their head and have someone else lift them by the top of the jacket arm openings. If the jacket rides up above their ears, the jacket is too big. If the jacket straps and zippers can’t close properly, it’s too small.
Stay Protected From the Sun
On a hot day on the lake, one of the biggest dangers people face is sunburn and dehydration. In addition to wearing sunscreen and the proper protective clothing, you should think about providing boat passengers with shade.
Every boat has its own limitations and options, but there are three major choices:
- Bimini tops are very popular and effective. They’re comprised of a metal frame with fabric that can be put up like a tent, or collapsed when not in use.
- For fishing boats and vessels with center consoles, T-tops work well. Shaped in the letter T, these tops have big metal poles that can be fixed to the deck and then dismantled and stored offshore.
- If you don’t want anything fancy, a nice boat umbrella will do. They come in different sizes, are easily portable, and can be used on only part of the boat (if so desired).
Be Safe This Summer
A day on the lake is supposed to fun, exciting, and relaxing. Unfortunately, when you put people, motors, and large bodies of water together, there’s always the opportunity for something to go wrong. By being cognizant of the risks you face and preparing yourself to encounter them in advance, you can greatly increase your chances of staying safe and having an enjoyable summer.