7 water safety tips for boaters and paddlers this summer
The sun is shining hot and the kids are out of school. Now’s the time to head out on the water. Maybe you boat kayak or canoe every year or maybe this year you want to try something new. No matter your experience it’s important to remember basic water safety. Here are seven tips to have fun and get back home in one piece.
1. Wear life jackets
Even if you’re an avid swimmer you still need to wear a life jacket in a kayak or canoe and have them on board a boat for all adults. Specific laws vary by state but at a minimum all kids younger than 13 years old must be wearing a life jacket while in a moving boat according to the BoatUS Foundation.
2. Don’t drink and drive
Driving a boat while intoxicated is against the law. If you’re beaching the boat for a while have a designated driver or another adult who can operate the boat. When kayaking or canoeing avoid alcohol. You need to appropriately navigate waterways and handle any rapids you encounter.
It may look perfect in the morning but look ahead for any severe weather. Plan to return back to land before any storms hit. Apply sunscreen or long sleeves if you’ll be in direct sun all day.
4. Tell someone your float plan
5. Have a communication device
Does your smartphone have service where you’re going? If not you may want to have a very high frequency (VHF) radio on board your craft. A VHF radio allows you to broadcast a distress signal to other boats as well.
6. Stay within your ability
Are you new to boating or kayaking? Stay within your ability level for paddling and consider a boating course if this will be your first time operating one. Don’t overload your boat by packing too many people in it.
7. Know the rules of the road
For any vessel you need to have an understanding of the navigation rules for waterways. Do you know how to pass when to give way and how to read the aids to navigation on the water? The BoatUS Foundation has a free online course to get a refresher.
Any water activity takes planning and preparation. Keep these water safety tips in mind as you get ready for your next trip. Once you have the safety aspect down you can enjoy the trip with your friends and family.
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