The waterways are open – it’s time to pull the cover off your boat and get it back into the water. Before you head out this summer on your boat or personal water craft, make sure you have the following small boat safety features on board and working.
* Floatation devices. Life jackets, throwable floatation devices and floating seat cushions can help save a life if someone falls overboard while out on the open water. Every time you decide to head out, follow boat safety rules and have enough floatation devices for each person on board. Make sure children wear a device at all times.
* Lights. Lights are required if you plan to be out after dark, but it’s a good idea to have them on your boat at all times. They can help other boaters see you on darker, cloudy days or in foggy weather.
* A sound producing device. The American Boating Association recommends every boat have a horn, whistle or bell on board.
* An emergency kit. This kit should contain a first aid kit, flashlight, marine radio, compass and signaling devices like a flare or whistle. It also is a good idea to store sunblock on your vessel as well.
* Fire extinguisher. Yes, you may be surrounded by water, but if a fire broke out on your boat, you would need to deal with it quickly, or everyone might be in for a swim. Boat fires can burn quickly and produce chemical-heavy toxic smoke that could easily overwhelm passengers. Make sure your boat has at least the minimum required number of fire extinguishers on board, and make sure all your passengers know how to use them.
* Charts and registration. Before you disembark on your boating journey, have a chart of the local waterways, as well as your registration and boating safety certificate (if required by your state). The charts will help to prevent you from becoming lost, and the registration is required if you were to be approached by a law enforcement agency while out on the water.
Taking boats and personal water craft out for a spin can be a grand adventure for your family, and having the proper safety equipment handy will help you make sure that everyone stays safe and has a great time. Also consider taking a boat safety course to refresh your memory on safety tips, especially if it’s been awhile since you were out on the water.