Boating is fun, but being on the water requires prudence. Many simple situations that cause accidents may be prevented.
Running out of gas is not particularly dangerous on small water or in good weather. But it may cause boating accidents and personal injury if it occurs in more treacherous waters or a storm.
Boaters should plan ahead, calculate their needs, and add a comfortable cushion of fuel to address unforeseen circumstances.
Running aground can be avoided by staying sober, slowing down, and keeping watch. If it occurs, make sure the cracked hull is not flooding the bilge before moving the boat. Being safely aground is better than sinking.
The best way to prevent sinking is assuring there are no holes. Use plastic through-hulls which are less costly and prone to corrosion. Do not overtighten them. Test wiggle through-hulls for clues and check the bilge for water and the bilge plug. Wooden bungs for quick-plugging holes are also recommended.
Always smell the bilge for fuel fumes and look for obvious spills or leaks or rainbow-hued slick on bilge water. Do not start a marine engine without running the bilge blower for five minutes.
Wearing a life jacket will turn you over and face up. Life preservers should have engine cut-off devices to stop the boat. Remember that standing on the boat’s edge to relieve yourself is risky.
Electrical problems often cause mechanical failure and serious accidents. For example, lights that illuminate boats at night will not work on a faulty battery.
If the boat has a flooded-cell battery, check it every weekend for proper fluid level and add distilled water if needed. The battery voltage should be at least 12 volts.
Half of all drowning accidents involve boaters without life jackets, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Have life preservers that properly fit everyone.
Boats must have flashlights, working flares, lights, fire extinguishers that are rated for fuel or electrical fires and regularly inspected, a horn and a canoe paddle or other backup propulsion. An anchor is essential if there is a breakdown or storm.
Use a smartphone to monitor the weather through weather apps and live weather. Station a weather lookout. Never leave port if weather conditions are questionable.
Speed should match conditions or setting. Speeding is especially dangerous at night when it is harder to see.
Lookouts, while underway or at anchor, provide warning of anything approaching.
Drugs and alcohol
Alcohol and drugs slow reflexes and impair judgment on land and sea. Boating while impaired is reckless.
Boating accidents can causer serious injuries or death. Attorneys can assist victims with seeking compensation.