Updated April 3, 2017 . AmFam Team
Does a wave of anticipation wash over you before each day on the water? With boat safety training and a little common sense, you can relax on the water knowing that you’re prepared for the unexpected.
Free of charge, the U.S. Coast Guard offers Vessel Safety Checks (Opens in a new tab) performed on your boat. And you can schedule it to occur either on the pier at your marina or on the trailer in your driveway. It’s a great way to ensure that your boat is in compliance with federal and state boating laws. Make sure you do it every year. They’ll verify that your boat has for the following items and credentials:
Now that you’ve got the safety basics down, review these common sense ideas and extra precautions to help keep everyone on the boat safe.
Install carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that carbon monoxide isn’t building up in your cabin. Be sure that all enclosed areas are ventilated and remember to reposition the boat so that riders avoid exhaust fumes when idling.
Use a depth finder. One of the best ways to avoid obstacles hidden underwater is to reference a depth finder when boating. Many on the market today display video details in high resolution and tell you where the fish are hiding, too!
Emergency preparedness is key. Be sure you’ve got air horns, emergency flares and fire extinguishers mounted in a clearly-visible area. Train your crew how to use the radio, call for help and send a distress signal.
Designate a second in command. It’s important to have another person on board that’s fully trained and ready-to-pilot if you or the primary person’s unable to.
Create a pre-boating checklist. Write up an itemized list of everything you need for the boat and review it before you head out. Be sure to include safety precautions, necessary items and don’t forget food, snacks and drinks.
Check your fuel and fluids. Remember to top off your fuel before heading out into the water. Look at the motor oil levels and peek at the coolant, filling as necessary prior to disembarking.
Pack a good toolbox. Make a list of the go-to tools you’re going to need to make quick repairs and get those into a waterproof toolbox you can keep on the boat.
Think about docking and anchoring now. Be sure your anchor is tethered to the boat, and it’s readily available for use. Carry extra dock lines and be sure to have a couple extra fenders on board for docking while you’re away.
Inspect the batteries. Verify the selector switch is properly positioned when two-battery charging’s in play. Pack spare batteries for handheld items like flashlights and portable navigational devices.
Don’t forget to have a blast! The memories you make boating with the kids and family can last a lifetime. While you’re working on getting your boat ready for the water, check in with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab). Finding the right protection for your boat can really help to bring peace of mind, knowing that your big investment is carefully insured.