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4 Boating Safety Tips to Avoid an Accident This Summer

Posted on June 29, 2022 in

Summer is the perfect season for boating. The summer heat can be overwhelming on land, but with the wind in your hair and the cool sprays of water on your skin, that heat doesn’t seem that bad. In fact, being on a boat on a hot summer day is the perfect combination. Unfortunately, the excitement of boating is not without its risks. In 2019, according to the Coast Guard, there were over 4,000 boating accidents that resulted in 2,500 injuries and over 600 deaths.

When you suffer an injury during a boating accident due to the negligence of another, the best thing is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible who can walk you through the laws and regulations that apply to your situation to ensure you have the best chance to recover full and fair compensation.

Tips to Avoid Boating Accidents This Summer

Most boating accidents are preventable, especially if people take the necessary steps to keep themselves and others on their boats and other boats safe. Study boating safety guidelines ahead of time at “Boating Safety” by the Arizona State Parks and Trails (https://azstateparks.com/boating-safety). While it may seem so easy, the law is that it is the responsibility of all boaters to ensure the safety of those in their boat, and the other boaters around them. That is a lot of responsibility for inexperienced boaters. Here are some tips to help you avoid a boating accident.

1. Don’t Drink and Boat

Most people know the dangers of drinking and driving, but few understand how dangerous it can be to drink and boat. While it’s common to host boat parties or take a few drinks along for the ride, taking a boat out on the water while drinking can be incredibly dangerous. Not only is operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol illegal in Arizona, but in some cases, it can be a federal crime.

Apart from the legal repercussions, alcohol can be even more hazardous on the water than on land. The effects of alcohol and the level of the drinker’s impairment can be exacerbated by the effects of water, such as the wave, engine noise, sun, wind, spray, and other stressors of the boating environment. Therefore, the same amount of alcohol level that impacts a boat operator’s coordination, judgment, and reaction, can be higher than if they were driving.

2. Be Prepared and Exercise Good Judgement.

Preparation goes a long way toward a fun trip to the lake. Add your good judgment, and you have a recipe for both fun and success in your boating trip! Before launching your watercraft, take a close look to ensure everything is in working order. If you notice something isn’t right, there’s no harm in waiting until it is fixed before hitting the water! Also, avoid taking chances on the water and go with caution if faced with a potentially dangerous situation on the lake. Hopefully, your watercraft is in lakeworthy condition and you’re able to hit the water safely during your next trip.

It is your responsibility to stay sober while operating watercraft.  Be prepared for an emergency on the lake. Check out this safety equipment list of items that should be on your boat.

  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency bailing device (bucket)
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Oars/paddles in case of engine failure
  • Functional running lights (it’s the law)
  • Anchor to hold your boat until help arrives
  • Plenty of drinking water
  • Extra clothes to protect you from sun, wind, rain or cold
  • Signaling flags or flares

3. Always Wear a Life Jacket

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that in 2019, life jackets could have saved almost 80% of boating fatality victims. However, despite knowing that life jackets save lives, most people don’t wear their life jackets. While it may not seem fun or fashionable to wear a life jacket while at a boating party, should an accident occur, your safety may hinge on whether or not you wore a life jacket. In Arizona, for children under 12, it’s the law. A life jacket is the closest thing to a seat belt you have when boating and life jackets are proven to save lives.

Throwable floatation devices should be on your watercraft in addition to life jackets. Keep your throwable floatation devices accessible in case of emergency. Purchase bright-colored models that are easily seen against the earth tones of the lake as well.  Use the right size PFD. We’re all built differently, so try on and purchase the most comfortable option.  Use bright colored PFDs to help others see you in the water. Pay attention to these PFD guidelines (https://www.dco.uscg.mil/CG-ENG-4/PFDSel/) to help you choose.  Check PFD frequently for leaks and hardware issues.  Dry your PFD before storage in a well-ventilated area out of the sun – we all know how damaging the Arizona sun can be!

4. Perform Pre-Boating Safety Checks

Performing pre-boating safety checks includes:

  • Making sure you have a full tank of gas (and reserve tank) and check for fuel leaks
  • Check the weather forecast for where you will be
  • Fully charge the battery
  • Test the steering and throttle controls to see if they are working correctly
  • Opening hatches and running the blower to sniff for fumes
  • Making sure you have enough life jackets
  • Check the running lights and electrical system
  • Check for hull damage, cracks needing repair
  • Make sure hoses are not cracked and that connections are tight
  • Check oil level, oil filter, water filter and spark plugs
  • Drain all water from the engine compartment and replace drain plus as needed
  • Checking if you have other boat safety equipment ready to go

Like a car, a boat requires maintenance, and if it’s not properly maintained, that can cause serious problems.

5. Beware of the Boat’s Propellers and Other Boaters

Boat propellers can be extremely dangerous and can cause severe injury. To avoid propeller injuries, keep the following in mind.

  • Before starting the boat, ensure all passengers are present and seated on the boat.
  • Make sure no one in the water is near the boat before starting the boat.
  • Let passengers know about the locations of the propellers and why they’re dangerous.
  • Don’t let anyone board or exit the boat from the water while the engine is on or idling.
  • Shut off the engine when approaching anyone in the water.
  • Use a propeller guard.

It’s important to stay mindful of every passenger and other boater or swimmer in the water and maintain a safe distance. New and experienced boaters should take a boating safety education course to learn about boat safety, buoys and navigation, how to handle emergencies and more. railering, info about buoys and navigation, boating emergencies, water sports, and much more! Taking one of these courses (https://www.azgfd.com/education/boating/) will help you become boat smart while reducing risk of boating injury to you and others.

Speak With a Skilled Boating Accident Lawyer Today

Boating accidents can have severe consequences, and if you’ve suffered a serious injury because of a boating accident, you may be able to recover monetary awards to compensate for your pain and suffering. Contact our specialist personal injury lawyers at Jensen Phelan Law Firm today so we can help assess your case and point you in the right direction so you can recover maximum compensation.

For a free assessment of your case and explanation of your rights, contact us today at (928) 778-2660 or fill out our contact form.