Recognizing the top seasonal hazards that contribute to boating accidents in the spring.
Spring is just around the corner, and in some places, it’s already here. As you prepare for your first boating adventure, you’ll want to properly de-winterize your vessel and perform a safety check to avoid serious boating accidents. And, to help you take as many precautions as possible, we’ve outlined four of the top safety hazards boaters face and some easy fixes so you can make the necessary arrangements and stay on top of your safety game.
- Ill-equipped vessel. Many boating accidents happen because vessels are not properly equipped. Before your first spring boat outing, it’s important to make sure all equipment is in working order and that you have everything on board to keep you safe. Here is a quick checklist of things you’ll want to take care of before setting sail:
- Check the battery
- Fill the cooling system
- Check fuel filter and fuel lines
- Check engine, distributor, and belts
- Check hull for damage
- Make sure you have a Coast Guard approved safety kit on board
- Bring a flashlight
- Check all radios, GPS, and their batteries
- Pack blankets, a change of clothes (in case you get wet), extra batteries, and non-perishable food items
- Ensure you have a sufficient amount of life jackets, that they fit everyone you plan on having aboard, and that they are all working properly
- Hypothermia. Even in the spring, as days grow warmer, boaters and their passengers can be at risk of hypothermia. Preventing hypothermia starts with recognizing the symptoms and knowing how to treat them. Confusion, shivering, drowsiness, and slurred speech are some of the early signs of hypothermia. Bring extra layers of clothing, bring a change of clothing and keep it in a dry pack, and also put an extra blanket in your first aid kit. Many stores sell packs that warm up when you need them. Carry a thermos of warm tea or soup. Finally, check the weather before you head out, as temperatures fluctuate quite a bit in the spring.
- Boater inexperience. Before you head out onto the waterways, make sure that you’ve brushed up on your boating skills and that you know local rules. Boat crashes can lead to devastating injuries and even death. In many areas, boating lessons are not required before a boater can operate a boat or get a license. Even if you are not required to hold a certification in your area, it is a good idea to take a boating safety course. If you are an experienced boater, it can’t hurt to learn additional ways to keep yourself and your family safe this boating season.
- Inclement weather. In the springtime, the weather can go from sunny to rainy and windy or even snowy in minutes. Always check the forecast before you head out to prevent a weather-related boating accident. Water conditions should also be noted. On sunny days, the waves may be big due to offshore storms. to prevent disaster, learn how to monitor ocean conditions and weather before sailing.
Spring is an exciting time for many boaters because it means the beginning of the season. Yet, it is also a dangerous time because boats may have been sitting in storage or at a dock all winter. Luckily, many boating accidents can be prevented easily with a little preparation and knowledge.