The Do’s and Don’ts of Boat Safety

Boating is one of California’s favorite pastimes. Every summer millions of locals and vacationers enjoy soaking up the California sun exploring coastlines and waterways, partaking in recreational activities such as boating, sailing, fishing, and water sports. California is popular for its warm climate, during the year boating accidents and fatalities may occur at a moment’s notice.

In 2016 there were 588 reportable boating accidents which resulted in 266 injuries and there were 50 reportable fatal boating accidents according to a 2016 California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics report release by California State Parks Division of boating and waterways.  Also, the Division of Boating and Waterways can help you learn about how to apply for your California Boater Card, which is required for boaters ages 20 years and younger. The State of California also offers several other boating safety courses to help its citizens and visitors to the state stay safe on the water.

Many of these crashes and accidents were easily avoidable. Tragically, many of the deaths and serious injuries that happen on the water are part of what are supposed to be exciting outings among family and friends, such as dinner cruises, scuba diving and snorkeling, surf excursions, deep sea fishing, and whale watching. None of these outings should result in injury to anyone involved. 

 Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Knowing your ABCs boating practicing safe a responsible boating habits start with knowing basic navigation rules and always boating sober.

Boating Do’s

·      Educate yourself on state laws before embarking on a boating excursion. Regulations vary by state so make sure you are following proper laws and protocol. 70 percent of operators involved in fatal boating accidents had no formal boater education. Be aware that even if you are an experienced boater, there are a lot of people who are renting a boat, many for the first time. They don't know what they are doing. Similar to driving, assume that the other boater does not see you, or does not know proper distance - be defensive and avoid traffic.

 Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

 

·      Make sure your boat is mechanically sound and your engine, fuel, electrical, and steering systems are up to the task.

·      Check the weather forecast for your designation and know your safety limitations. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return.

·      Keep a Global Positioning System (GPS) with you at all times and know how to use it. This includes checking batteries and maintaining in a dry box or bag. Regular testing is advisable. You don't want to go to use your GPS for the first time in an emergency and realize it is out of power.

·      Obey marine traffic laws and know warning and distress signals in case of an emergency. Always carry a working fire extinguisher and a warning flares.

·      Always travel slowly in shallow waters and keep alert around other watercraft, paddlers, and swimmers. The leading type of boating accident 2016 was caused by collisions with other vessels. Stand-up-paddle (SUP) is increasingly popular, as are accidents and fatalities involving SUPs. Remember that SUPs move slow and are not able to change direction quickly. 

·      Make sure you have adequate insurance protection. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your boat is adequately covered for liability insurance.

Boating Don’ts

·      Don’t mix boating with drugs or alcohol. Based off reportable boating fatality statistics, alcohol or drug use is estimated to have played a role in over 24 percent of boating deaths. The US Coast Guard monitors boating and alcohol use in the major harbors, and the penalties for drinking and boating can be serious. 

·      Don’t forget life vests for each person on the boat. In fatal boating accidents, the leading cause of death is drowning. Again, alcohol often plays a role in the injury or death. 

·      Don’t overload the boat or permit passengers to ride on the bow, seatbacks, or gunwales.

·      Don’t forget to have designated lookout to keep tracks of other boats, swimmers, and debris and objects. Be especially careful entering and exiting the harbor. The closer you get to leaving the harbor, the more anxious many boaters get to increase speed. Many crashes happen in this zone of the harbor.

·      Don’t go faster than you should. Travel at a safe speed so you can be prepared to slow down suddenly if the need arises.

·      Don’t ignore posted speed limit and no wake zone signs.

·      Don’t jump a wake; make sure to be aware of others in the water as your cross at a low speed. Many boats are not built to sustain strong impacts. Jumping the wake of another boat can crack your hull and result in slow leaks into the bow of your vessel. 

·      Don’t forget to pack additional safety devices like a first aid kit, spare parts, and a radio. Communication with land can be crucial if you are involved in an accident. In Southern California, many incidents happen within a few miles of shore, but there is a tendency for boaters to assume that because there are sometimes many boats around, someone will come along. Remember that on some days, Catalina Island is easily visible from Orange and Los Angeles counties, while other days it is impossible to see. The same goes for boats: don't assume others will be able to see you. The marine layer and other precipitation can limit visibility. 

 Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

As Summer begins the beaches and water will begin to fill with families, couples, and individuals who intend to enjoy their vacations and time on the water. Boaters have the responsibility to adhere to safe boating practices to not only protect themselves and their passengers, but also everyone around them on coastline and waterways.

 From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

Despite your best efforts, boating accidents happen, and the scenarios in which injury can happen on the water are endless. If ever a need to a Personal Injury Lawyer for severe boating accidents, The Lions Injury Lawyers can help. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you navigate what is often a difficult and emotional time for you and your family. The laws regarding liability, insurance, negligence, and due care can be complex and confusing for anyone involved in an accident. Seeking proper medical treatment can be costly, and most people don't know how to get the care they need. The Lions Injury Lawyers are ready to answer your questions and help you move forward. You deserve to be compensated for your loss, including lost wages, loss of companionship and loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and the cost of your medical bills. Call The Lions today for a free, no-cost consultation.