With the weather getting warmer as the summer months approach, many California residents are readying their boats for another fun summer on the waters of our state. However, as safe as a boat may seem, boating is a potentially dangerous activity. Here are some boating safety tips to help make the summer of 2021 more enjoyable for you, as well as your family and friends.
Boating is an activity related to water. Thus, any danger inherent in any type of water activity is a threat. Also, some boats may weigh as much as a ton with speeds of up to 90 mph, which makes them potentially deadly instruments of destruction.
Those who operate boats must always pay close attention to the environment. This means never leaving the controls. Those boaters who are inexperienced should avoid dangerous situations, especially those related to bad weather. Often, accidents are caused by the failure to adequately deal with certain circumstances and take necessary safety measures.
The following are some safety tips for enjoying a safe boating experience:
- Always operate your boat at a safe speed, especially in high-traffic areas), stay alert, and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that may have difficulty stopping or turning.
- Look for and be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. These items are present to ensure your safety and the safety of other boats.
- The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations. These entities also offer virtual vessel exams, free of charge.
- Like motor vehicles, boats must be properly and regularly maintained. Any defective parts of the boat have the potential to cause an injury. Like a car engine, a boat engine may expose those aboard to unsafe levels of toxic carbon monoxide, which may cause serious injury or even death.
- It is important to especially monitor the safety of younger passengers such as children, as well as those passengers who are unable to swim. Of course, it is vital to pay close attention to and constantly monitor the condition and safety of all passengers. All passengers must be equipped with and wear a life jacket.
- Bad weather on a body of water may pose many dangers and do so in the blink of an eye. Monitoring local weather reports before and during boating trips is a necessary part of boating. Severe weather conditions may cause passengers to be thrown around or from the boat. Extreme heat and over-exposure to the sun may cause heat exhaustion even to those who are exerting little physical effort like simply sitting on the deck of the boat watching the festivities.
- Using substances such as alcohol or drugs while operating a boat is irresponsible. Anything that alters your ability to make decisions when operating a boat is a serious impediment to the safety of all those on board. While boating, it may be necessary to make an important decision in seconds that may save a life. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your ability to do this may be drastically reduced.
- One out of three boating accidents involves an operator who is under the influence of alcohol. In California, it is a crime to operate a boat while intoxicated. Offenders are subject to fines and even incarceration. California statute Harbors & Navigation Code § 655 prohibits boating under the influence. Section 655 makes it a crime to operate any boat, watercraft, jetski, or vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a BAC of .08 or higher.
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