The month of May is National Water Safety Month. As we gear up for the summer, I wanted to share my Top 10 boating safety tips. Using these key tips will allow you to maximize your time on the water, enjoy recreating with others and most importantly return home safely.
1. ALWAYS WEAR A PFD.
Safety on the water begins with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or life jacket. It’s imperative for everyone recreating on the water to use a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved PFD. There are multiple types of PFDs meant for a variety of situations. Foam PFDs are a great option and require minimal maintenance. Inflatable PFDs can provide additional benefits, but they need to be maintained properly. I highly recommend always wearing a PFD while you’re recreating on the water. You never know when something could happen.
2. USE AN ENGINE CUT-OFF DEVICE.
Please use an Engine Cut-Off device. The safety lanyard should be hooked directly to the boat operator or a conveniently located D-loop on the operator’s PFD. The safety lanyard should be correctly attached to the engine cut off switch located at the helm. I recommend testing the engine cut off device to make sure it shuts off the outboard immediately when the safety lanyard is pulled.
3. TAKE A SAFE BOATING COURSE.
Please complete a safe boating course, no matter how much time you have spent on the water. Whether you’re a new boat owner or a skilled operator, a safe boating course gives us all the opportunity to brush up our safety knowledge before hitting the water. Please consult your state regulations. Various states have safe boating course requirements to legally operate a vessel.
4. FILE A FLOAT PLAN.
Please file a float plan. A float plan lets people know where you’re recreating on the water, the time you expect to return, and how to contact
you should you not return. Methods for filing a float plan include a text message, a hand-written note, or a shared GPS location. The purpose of this plan is to have help already in place should an issue arise.
5. MONITOR THE WEATHER.
Please monitor the weather. I use various apps on my phone in order to prepare for my trips on the water. It’s important to understand precipitation levels, wind speeds and wind directions before ever hitting the lake. Continue to monitor the weather throughout the day, so that you do not get caught in any harmful situations. If weather arises, please take shelter immediately.
6. PREPARE YOUR SAFETY GEAR.
Please prepare your vessel with all necessary safety gear. I like to prepare beyond the required gear in order to ensure safety no matter what situation may arise. Make sure you have a properly working fire extinguisher, flares, navigational lights, whistle, first aid kit, PFDs and throw cushions. Additional items I like to carry include: a spare prop, tools, rain gear, extra clothes, food, water, etc. Once your vessel is prepared for the boating season, I highly recommend having your local United States Coast Guard Auxiliary®
Unit perform a free vessel safety check.
7. NEVER BOAT UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Please do not boat under the influence. It’s important to stay hydrated on the water, but not with alcohol. If we don’t drink and drive in a car, why are we doing it behind the wheel of a boat? It’s our responsibility to make sure the boat operator is always sober.
8. FOLLOW ALL RULES AND REGULATIONS.
Please familiarize yourself with all rules and regulations before hitting the water. First, make sure you are aware of all national regulations put in place by the United States Coast Guard®
. Understand the mandatory equipment and operation requirements associated with being a boat operator. Rules vary by vessel type so please consult your local state agency.
9. MAINTENANCE MATTERS
Please follow your regularly scheduled maintenance on your outboard to ensure optimal performance and safe operation on the water. Use the MyYamahaOutboards app
to follow your maintenance schedule and navigate through the pre-trip checklist. Preparing your vessel for time on the water ensures everything is serviced, bolts are tightened, and your equipment is performing to its full potential.
10. BE ALERT.
Please be alert and always maintain awareness while you are operating a vessel. Things happen fast on the water. Make sure to always keep a proper lookout and understand situational awareness. Remember that boats do not have brakes, so it’s our responsibility to maintain a full field of view and navigate cautiously while recreating on the water.
Reference these boating safety tips before you hit the water. It’s our responsibility as boat operators to set the proper safety example on the water. A fun and safe day begins with being prepared.