Boating is a very popular hobby in New England. Now that the season is approaching, we are all ready to take the boat back out on the water. Despite your amount of experience, there is always the potential for a boat accident. Follow these safety tips to limit your risk of getting in a boating accident:
Have a supplies list
One of the most important parts of avoiding a boat accident is being prepared. Make sure that you have the right resources and supplies to be on open water.
You should always have at least two people on the boat who know how to navigate. If the primary navigator becomes hurt or incapacitated, someone needs to have the proper knowledge to direct back to shore.
Everyone on the boat should also know how to swim. It is also important to have the necessary supplies to keep you safe such as:
- Life jackets for each person plus two extras
- Horn/ sound producing device
- Navigation lights (legally required)
- First aid kit
- Additional fuel
- Fire extinguishers
- Additional batteries
- Dock lines
Check the weather
Always look to see what the weather forecast looks like in the area you will be boating. The weather can turn from beautiful to disastrous in seconds, so it is important to look at a detailed forecast before heading out for the day. The water can get extremely dangerous in stormy weather, therefore, you must stay aware of your elements. If you notice dark clouds, changes in wind pattern, or rain, it is time to head back to shore.
Know where you are going
The captain needs to be able to navigate to and from the destination and have a good understanding of their surroundings. Also, make sure that a person on land knows where you are headed and has a list of everyone on the boat in case of an emergency.
Just like operating a car under the influence, it is also illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is the leading cause of boat accidents. Each state has its own limits and penalties but depending on the situation you could be at risk of:
- Jail time
- Loss of license/ seizure of the boat
- Substance abuse programs
- Criminal charges
In most states, the legal limit to operate a vehicle, including a boat, is 0.08%. If you are under 21, you are held guilty of driving under the influence at a much lower percentage. Alcohol and drugs inhibit your ability to focus and your decision-making skills. Make the right choice and do not drink and drive your boat.
Common sense is key
Always follow common sense safety procedures while operating a boat. Stay alert of your surroundings at all times. Steer clear of larger vessels and try to avoid large waves. Also make sure to navigate with a safe speed at all times, and to slow down almost completely in crowded areas of the water. Finally, be cautious of obstacles such as buoys, rocks, and any navigational aids throughout the water.
What to do if you are involved in a boat accident
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a boating accident, you must be prepared. It is important to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of those involved in the accident.
Make sure passengers are safe
The first thing you need to do after a boating accident is to get your bearings. Make sure that everyone is accounted for. If anyone has fallen overboard, immediately make sure they are returned to safety. Lifejackets should already be on.
Check everyone for injuries and use your first aid kit if necessary. The boat should be moved so that it is out of the way of other boats, as this will help prevent additional accidents.
The coastguard should immediately be contacted and notified of the accident. They will need additional information including the location of the accident and what medical attention is needed. Do not leave the area until the Coast Guard arrives and assists you.
It is important to document as much information about the accident as possible. Try to take as many pictures and record what happened immediately so it is fresh in your memory. If the accident involved another boat get contact information as well and record their injuries-if any.
Get a Boating Accident Attorney
Once you are on land, make sure you seek medical attention to check for any additional injuries and to treat current injuries if necessary. If you have been injured in a boating accident it is ideal to contact a boating accident lawyer to get a consultation on the next steps. This process can be challenging and confusing, but an experienced personal injury attorney will help you through the process and get you the money you are entitled to.
Call Rob Levine & Associates today if you or a loved one is injured in a boat accident. We offer free case evaluations. Most importantly, you do not pay a penny out of pocket unless we win your case.