In Florida, especially around here in Stuart and the greater Martin County, Memorial Day weekend means honoring our veterans and spending some time out over the water. Whether you are taking a trip down St. Lucie River or heading out to the ocean for some fishing with friends, you must keep safety as your number one priority. To help stay safe, always remember these safety tips and hints.
- Check the weather: A little bit of wind and rain might not bother you when you’re driving down the street but while you are boating, it can be a major safety concern. Never go out on the water without first checking local and updated weather reports. Bring a trusty radio onto your craft it does not have one preinstalled so you can get minute-by-minute weather updates. If the clouds darken and the temperature suddenly drops, head back to harbor, for these are early warning signs of inclement weather right around the corner.
- Make a checklist: Being prepared for any unfortunate situation means being thorough. Create a checklist with the help of others who will be going boating with you and use it before departure. Your checklist should include necessary supplies, general safety rules that must be followed while on the watercraft, and additional precautions.
- Avoidance maneuvers: There are a few things on the water you should always keep at a safe distance. Large vessels that are not capable of stopping or steering at a moment’s notice should be given their needed space. You should also not steer close to buoys, which may cause damage to a vessel upon collision, despite their seemingly harmless appearance.
- Lifejackets and lifesavers: This cannot be stressed enough: make certain everyone has a properly-fitted lifejacket at all times, including any pets you bring onboard. There should be at least one lifesaver you can throw to someone who has fallen overboard in the event that they had removed their lifejacket. If you are worried about fashion, there are inflatable models available that are less bulky when not in use.
- Unofficial skipper: It is not safe to have only one person onboard who can operate your watercraft. Before you leave the harbor or dock, make someone your skipper-for-the-day and teach them the basics of controlling the vehicle, in case you should become incapacitated or, in a more likely scenario, you fall overboard.
- Notification: Someone who is not going on your boating trip should be notified about your float plan, or how long you plan to stay on the water and about where you will be. It helps to make a physical copy of your float plan to give this person, who should be a close friend or a staff member at the marina or harbor you are departing from. Include your contact information, the name and phone numbers of everyone else going with you, a specific description of your vessel, where you plan to go and for how long, and any sort of emergency equipment you will have onboard so they can contact you.
- Sobriety: Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal in most cases – a crime known as BUI – but it is always dangerous. Do not allow yourself or your skipper to consume any alcoholic beverages. Ideally, no one onboard will be intoxicated, for the disorienting effects of alcohol may cause someone to fall overboard more easily.
- Safety check: Did you know that the United States Coast Guard offers completely free vessel examinations, usually once per year for each registered watercraft? Head over to their website (by clicking here) and schedule one to make certain your boat is up to Coast Guard safety standards. It really does not get much easier than that when it comes to boating safety.
Of course, all the best safety practices in the world cannot protect you from the dangers of other negligent boaters. If you get into a boating accident that is not your fault this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to call 866.675.4427 to talk with a Stuart personal injury attorney from Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC.