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Improving Boat Safety – Tips To Improve Your Overall Onboard Safety

Regularly Inspect & Maintain Safety Equipment

Life jackets, fire extinguishers, two-way radio, operable lights, and so much more, no matter the boat, every boat should have the basics onboard when it comes to safety equipment.  But just as important as having the equipment is also making sure to regularly inspect and maintain the equipment.  The last place any boater wants to find themselves is in a situation where they need to utilize their safety equipment and to have it malfunction.  Depending on the equipment in question, the size of your boat, and how regularly you use it, your inspection schedule may vary. However, if the manufacturer or retailer suggests a specific inspection and maintenance schedule, it is always best to stick to it to avoid any unexpected, potentially life-threatening surprises.

Be Aware Of Weather Conditions

Regardless of the time of year, the current conditions, or how confident you are in your abilities as a captain, it is of the utmost importance that you are fully aware of the weather conditions as well as the weather forecast any time you intend to take your boat out on the water.  It is not only important to be aware of the expected conditions being forecasted, but also to be consistently aware of and monitoring the weather conditions as you’re out on the water. This includes watching for things like lightning flashes, sudden shifts in the wind, and sudden chop or rough seas as they can all be indicative of rough weather approaching.

Understand The Rules of the Water

Just like when driving a car, there are a number of rules and regulations for operating a boat or yacht on the open water, whether it be the ocean, the intracoastal, a bay, a lake or any other body of water.  Starting with the obvious safety precautions, always make sure your passengers do not position themselves in unsafe areas onboard. This can include areas outside of protective railings, on gunwales, or other unsecured areas. Also, make sure to be aware of any speed regulations as you cruise – slow or no-wake zones are there for the safety of all boaters as well as marine life and are taken very seriously. Finally, make sure to have a solid understanding and comprehension of boat traffic rules and procedures to avoid potentially catastrophic conditions like boat collisions or running your boat over shallow water.   

Leave The Alcohol Onshore

One surefire way to immediately make your day on the boat more dangerous is to have drugs and/or alcohol on board your craft.  Just as it is dangerous and illegal to operate a car or truck under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it is just as, if not more dangerous to do so on a boat or yacht.  Alcohol’s effects are also greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration, making it so the amount you safely consume on land may be too much for you while onboard, giving you a false sense of security which could lead to disaster.  Now depending on the situation, the guests onboard, and the water conditions, exceptions can always be made for passengers, however the person or people responsible for navigation, steering and onboard safety should never be under the influence.

Utilize Technology

In today’s world there is new technology and software being introduced every day to improve boating safety. Whether you are integrating software in to onboard systems, third party hardware, or even via iPhone or Android application, technology is constantly being utilized to improve onboard safety.  When investigating safety technology solutions, think about what some of your biggest safety concerns are currently. Do you need a fallback communications system? A faster and more accurate GPS system for navigation? Better mapping and positioning to understand currents and waterways? No matter the need or how it will factor in to your overall safety protocol, there is an easy to use and quick to integrate software solution.

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