Pennsylvanians are getting a late start to their summer — and many are heading out to the nearest lake or waterway for some recreational boating time.
With that in mind, let’s go over some of the most important things you need to remember about boating safety before you head out:
- Don’t let the captain of the boat drink and drive. Drunk driving is illegal on water, the same way that it’s illegal on land — but a lot of people fool themselves into believing that it’s somehow “safe enough.” (In reality, drinking is the No. 1 contributing factor to boating fatalities.)
- Stay out of foul weather. Fair weather can turn ugly in a heartbeat. If storm clouds move in, the temperature suddenly falls or the wind starts to get blustery, head for shore.
- Make sure that there’s a float plan on file. Entrusting someone with your float plan can lead to a much faster rescue, should you have problems on the water.
- Insist on life jackets. If your skipper says that you don’t really need a lifejacket, it’s wiser to stay home. Life jackets should be mandatory when you’re on the water. Make sure that everyone in your family is wearing one that’s properly fitted before they head out.
- Don’t engage in risky activities. Swimming, tubing and wakeboarding are fine — so long as they’re done in the daylight and with an eye toward safety. Make sure that you always use a spotter so that there’s less risk that someone will get caught in the boat’s propeller.
The reality is that the majority of recreational boating accidents are avoidable — so long as proper caution is used. If you fall victim to another party’s negligence and end up in a boating accident or a loved one is killed, find out how you can pursue a measure of justice for your losses.