Boating Safety Checklist

July 27, 2015 [et_pb_section fullwidth="off" specialty="off"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Before you set off on a boating trip (of any kind) there is one thing you MUST do to insure the safety of your crew: Run through a safety checklist to insure everyone aboard knows the basic safety procedures and where safety equipment is stored and how it works. As the boat operator or skipper you should have learned the basics of boat operation and safety well before your first trip to the marina or launch ramp with a crew. No matter how much experience you have, these boating safety rules should be reviewed with everyone before each departure. As captain of the vessel you are responsible for the safety for those on board. Make sure everyone understands where the safety equipment is located and what to do in the case of an emergency. 1. Check the Weather Always check weather conditions for boating safety the day before departure and again before you leave home. TV and radio forecasts can be a good source of information, but a web based weather site such as will give you much more information and up-to-the-second weather radar data. Once out, if you notice darkening clouds, rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water. 2. Follow a Pre-departure Checklist Boating safety means being prepared for any possibility on the water. Your obligation to your crew and guests include safety regulation compliance that could save them or you, should you go overboard and need them to operate the boat and fish you out. Following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten. Things to include in your checklist are: • Check the weather • Is the boat registration and my boating certificate current? • Am I familiar with the area I am going to?   Do I have charts ? • Have I checked the boat for problems and noted any required repairs. • Do I have enough fuel for the trip, plus reserves?    Remember the 1/3 fuel rule. • Do I have sufficient water and food for the return trip, plus reserves? • Is all the appropriate safety equipment onboard and in working order? • Have I shown my passengers where the safety equipment is and how to use it? • Have I advised a reliable person of my boating plans? This is best done with a written float plan. Do we have the safety equipment required by law ?    Additional safety equipment can include: • Oars or paddle • Knife • Extra Line • VHF Radio • Flashlight • Signaling Mirror • Flares • Boat hook • First-aid kit • Drinking water • Fire Extinguisher • Bailer or Bucket • Chart and Compass • Anchor Chain and Rode • Life jackets, including a throwable • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) 3. 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 busy areas. Be alert at all times. 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. 4. Designate an Assistant Skipper Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling and safe operation. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it is important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore. 5. 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 (radio / EPIRB. 6. Make proper use of life jackets 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 your family and friends are not part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your onboard team with a lifejacket-prior to departure. Make sure they are easy to reach and fit properly. 7. The facts about boating and alcohol One third of all boating fatalities involve alcohol. The blood alcohol limit on the water is the same as on the roads – 0.08%. Remember that boating stressors such as the wind, waves and the sun combine to multiply the effects of alcohol. Your chances of disorientation and drowning are dramatically increased. 8. Take a boating course Beginners and experienced boaters alike need to be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. Regardless of statutory requirements, it is always important to be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that might arise. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.  Remember that the basic boating course is just that, basic.  There is always more to learn. 9. Children’s safety Buy a good Coast Guard approved lifejacket with a collar that turns a child face up in the water. It must have strong waist and crotch straps, a handle on the collar, and preferably be a bright yellow or orange color for good visibility. Attach a plastic safety whistle to the lifejacket and teach the child how to use the whistle – and practice using it. Additionally, ensure that children thoroughly understand safety procedures and can respond appropriately in an emergency. Practice safety drills and situation role-plays so that emergency procedures become second nature to you and your children. 10. Carry a marine radio A cell phone is not enough (and is not waterproof !) It can only reach one person, and can become water damaged very easily, run out of battery or the reception can drop out. If something goes wrong with your mobile your lifeline to safety is gone.  Carry a VHF radio. A ‘mayday’ call on a Marine Radio (Channel 16) can be heard by many people – instantly, getting help to you more quickly. It is also purpose-built and is a lot more reliable than a mobile phone. 11. Practice a Man Overboard Drill   (MOB = Man Overboard) Throw a square cushion overboard from time to time and practice how to pick it up.  Steps for man overboard rescue are:  Throw a cushion or horseshoe ring,   Assign a "pointer",   STOP the boat,  Push MOB on your GPS, Turn back to the MOB and stop the boat to windward of them so the boat will block the waves and slowly drift down to them.  STOP the engines,  Assist them out of the water. Before you go,  review each step of the above drill and figure out how you are going to make it happen (especially how to fish out a wet, scared, heavy person with limited ability to help themselves) Night safety When night falls it is a completely different world on the water, and so vessels that operate from sunset to sunrise, whether at anchor or under way, must carry and exhibit the correct lights. Slow down, be bright at night and make sure all of your lights are working. By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800 Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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