Boating knowledge and preparedness are essential before leaving the dock.
Boaters should be aware that there are four major causes of drowning: not wearing a life jacket, abuse of alcohol, lack of swimming skills and hypothermia. If you are a boating novice, contact your local National Safe Boating Council, Inc. or the American Red Cross for information about local or on-line safe boating classes.
- Ensure you have all necessary safety equipment on board.
- Always wear Coast Guard approved life jackets when boating and fishing.
- Don’t overload your boat with passengers.
- Check your electrical and fuel systems before getting underway
- Ban alcohol from your boat. Statistics show that in more than 50 percent of the cases where people drowned in boating incidents, alcohol was involved.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving the dock and remain alert to changes in weather. If you see or hear a storm, you need to get off the water immediately.
Make sure those remaining on shore know where you are heading and when you should return. That way if you are delayed because of trouble, someone will know to start looking for you and the area in which you were supposed to be.