Whether you're an old salt or on your first set of sails, the start of every season is the perfect time for every sailor to brush up on boating safety. So, after you've given your on-board systems their annual thorough check, make sure your safety systems are firmly in place as well. Here are some great places to start as we kick off National Safe Boating Week:
Even if you've been through them a thousand times, take time to review the safety items you keep on board. Are your lifejackets up to snuff? Have you been tapping your fire extinguisher to keep it "fresh"? (Hint: Don't do that.) Now's the time to update your gear before a summer in full-swing pushes this important task out of mind.
What are you missing? Check out Discover Boating's Pre-Departure Checklist, which comes complete with a downloadable version so you can print that sucker out, laminate it, and keep it on board. You can download even more guides – including one on choosing the right life jacket – from the Safe Boating Council.
Have a furry first mate? Make sure your pets have the gear and care they need: a snug-but-comfortable life vest, plenty of water, and shade. And whichever the species, have your rescue plan in place before you leave the dock in case a pet (or human) falls in without warning.
Some boaters shun the idea of technology interfering with time on the water, which is understandable. But we all know a good resource when we see it, and having safety checklists, reminders, and alerts in the palm of your hand is an absolute advantage.
Launched last summer, the U.S. Coast Guard app can help you check your safety systems, file a float plan, and more. We also like the NOAA Hi-Def Radar Pro app for its detailed storm visualizations, storm alerts, and hurricane tracking. For our BoatUS members, when you call for a assistance using the official BoatUS app, your coordinates, boat size, and other crucial information is sent to their teams, which will help keep communication crystal clear.
Looking a little silly is a small price to pay to increase boating safety awareness. This Friday, May 20, join the Safe Boating Council and boaters around the country for National Wear Your Lifejacket to Work Day! Tune into the Dockwa Facebook page to see how many members of the Dockwa team we manage to drag into the fun. :)
The National Safe Boating Council has challenged boaters to beat last year's record of 10,917 participants, and will be providing updates throughout the week on Twitter and Facebook – so get geared up and post your photos!
It always helps to keep your knowledge recent. Luckily there are many online courses for you to choose from when it comes to boating safety, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.
BoatEd, the official provider of recreational safety education materials for all 50 states, offers boater safety courses and test online. The BoatUS Foundation offers cutting-edge courses on safety, including Hurricane Preparation and the newly-added How to Use GPS.
Thus concludes our list of starting points for dusting off your boating safety for the season; hopefully we've provided enough links to resources so you can take the research from here!
Happy (and safe) Boating!