Planning and preparation beforehand will help you to be a good captain for yourself and your passengers and allow for safe adventures.
Switlik Safe Boating Tips
1. Create a pre-departure checklist
Safe boating requires specific items for different scenarios, so it’s important to list out and pack what you will need. Common items needed will be fuel, food, water, clothing, safety equipment and a first aid kit. Before heading out, review your checklist with your crew to familiarize and check your gear and equipment.
2. Keep an eye on the weather forecast
Leading up to the trip, keep an eye on weather patterns along your route. Delay your trip during heavy rain, strong winds and other unfavorable conditions. Squalls can pop up, change course to find calmer conditions or seek shelter.
3. File a float plan
Formal or informal, file a float plan so someone knows when to expect you. Include a description of how many people will be on board.
4. Invest in safety equipment
Some safety equipment, like life vests and navigation lights are non-negotiable and required by the Coast Guard. You can never be too prepared for an emergency and you should consider the specific conditions you may encounter, like venturing far from help. Additional safety equipment like life rafts and man overboard recovery are items you most likely won’t use but do you want to bet your life, and the lives of your family on “the odds?” Some safety gear, like many other things, does have a shelf life and can wear out over time. Owning your safety equipment means you’ll always know its condition and service timetable.
5. Practice man overboard situations
Every man overboard situation will be unique but practicing for cases of man overboard will create a routine. Show your crew where your man overboard recovery equipment is located and demonstrate how to use it. Run through a man overboard situation, using a bucket so you can stimulate how to rescue a person.
Boating has inherent dangers, but with preparation and planning, you can help to minimize the risks.
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