In 2014, the number of recreational boating accidents totaled 610, the second lowest number of boating fatalities ever recorded. The lowest number of boating related deaths was 560 in 2013, according to the Coast Guard. Alcohol was the leading cause of these accidents, accounting for 21% of all deaths. Almost 71% of the victims drowned, and of those, it’s reported that 84% were not wearing a life vest as required by law. Here are great tips to help you prevent boating accidents this summer in Rhode Island and to ensure you won’t be part of the statistics.
Wear Life Jackets
A life jacket is the number one safety thing that every occupant should either put on or have available. When operating a watercraft, you need to have a life jacket at all times because you are closer to the water and there is a greater risk of falling in with no time to wear your life vest. If you’re on a larger vessel, it is not always a must that you put on a life vest at all times, particularly if the vessel has an interior space. However, use your common sense, if there are weather problems that may pose hazardous to your trip, wear your life vest at all times.
Always Be Alert
Just as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and risky, and is among the top causes of boating accidents. As mentioned above, alcohol is to blame for a number of boating related deaths. Alcohol tricks your brain into thinking that you’re sober and that you can operate a boat, while in reality you have lost the reactions required to operate your craft appropriately. Therefore, never operate your boat while under the influence of alcohol. Also, never travel in a vessel if you suspect the operator may have been taking alcohol or is otherwise intoxicated.
Inspect Your Boat
Even if you kept your watercraft in a storage, chances are it sustained damages over the winter. Before you hit the water this summer, inspect your boat to ensure it is in good working condition for a safe boating excursion. The time you spend inspecting your boat can make the difference between a wonderful cruising and a frustrating one. Inspect the hoses and other rubber parts for stiffness, rusts, leaks and cracking. Pay particular attention to metal surfaces as well as electrical systems to ensure they are not corroded by moisture.
Check The Weather
If you want to enjoy your boat more, it is advised to check the local weather condition before departure. Television and radio forecasts are a great source of information. If you see darkening clouds, volatile and winds or drops in temperature, it is in your best interest to delay your trip. If you are in the waters, play it safe by coming out of the water. If you will be entering and leaving river entrances as well as crossing bars, you need to know when high and low tide may occur. Outgoing tidal flow or low tides are known to cause steeper waves, which can make the boat difficult to steer.
Have An Assistant
One of the most significant parts of boating safety is to designate an assistant operator. Because boating accident can happen at any time of day or night, it is important to ensure that more than one occupant knows each and every aspect of handling and operating your boat. Having a secondary navigator on board who can follow boating safety rules to the letter can steer the vessel back to shore if the primary navigator is injured or falls ill. Also, be sure to bring a fully charged mobile phone with you before setting off.
Whether you’re a new or experienced operator, we suggest you undertake safe boating training. A course will ensure that you posses essential boating knowledge to make sure you are safe on the water, and comply with all boating rules and related legislation in Rhode Island. These courses will teach you about the safety equipment and how to apply them in the event of an emergency. A beginners class will teach you the basics, including navigation, control and rules. Local classes might discuss specifics related to boating in Rhode Island.
Know Your Route
Another safety tip is to always ensure that you know where you’re headed, how long you should be away, and be sure to inform your family. It makes sense that you find a trustworthy person and let them know where you are going and when you will be back. This way, if anything happens to you, you have the great chances of being rescued, instead of having nobody realize you have been missing until it is too late. This will also make it easy for people to know where to begin searching for you.
Before you depart, make sure that you carry enough clothing and supplies for any weather you might encounter. Be sure to carry maps and charts for the route you will be taking, and plan out your trip in advance. Also, ensure that you have adequate food and water on the boat for yourself and each occupant. Like your car, your vessel needs numerous fluids to operate. Check to make sure the oil, power steering, coolant, power trim and gear oil are at good levels.
Understand The Rules
Every state has specific boating rules that you need to comply with. In Rhode Island, all persons born after January 1, 1986 are required to undergo a boating course before they might legally operate a boat. Upon completion, they must carry their certificate whenever they operate any vessel. Failure to comply with these regulations will attract a fine of $250 or lose boating rights to for up to 45 days. Rhode Island marine officers patrol the waterways on a regular basis to ensure you are safe on the water.
Whether you are a boat operator or a passenger, you need be very careful when enjoying recreational time on the water. By following boating safety protocol, you can prevent boating accidents this summer in Rhode Island.