Even if you are a seasoned boater, it is always a good idea to review some boating basics before departure. It may save you or you passenger’s lives. Boating is one of the greatest summer activities. Time spent on the water can be both relaxing and enjoyable. However, boating presents its dangers that you must be aware. Safety should always be your top priority.

Keep an eye on the weather

Check your local weather before you make plans to go boating. Tv and radio forecasts are an excellent way to get insight as to the potential weekend weather. If you are already on the water and notice a sudden temperature decrease, rough and volatile winds, or darkening clouds, it may be a good idea to return to land. A boat is a dangerous place to be in a massive storm.

Make a pre-departure checklist and follow it

For a boat to be safe, it should be equipped well enough to deal with any catastrophe that may present itself while out on the water. Before you depart, make a checklist of everything you believe could be helpful in the event of an emergency. Once you have done the checklist, check your boat and ensure you have the proper equipment. You should add any items you find yourself wanting while on the water.

Use good judgment

The most important tool you have to prevent a boating accident is your common sense. Operate your boat at a reasonable speed at all times. If you are boating through crowded areas, reduce your speed as needed. Stay alert at all times and give a wide birth to other watercraft that is not able to turn quickly. Pay attention to buoys and navigation aids. They have been placed in the water to keep you and your passengers safe.

Bring along a skipper

Try to bring at least one or more other people who are knowledgeable about boats and could pilot your ship is the need should arise. Having a well-trained skipper is a boon should the captain of the ship get injured or otherwise incapacitated. They may be the only reason you get back to shore in the event of an emergency.

Let people know about your adventure before you leave

Inform your friends, family, or a local marina of your float plans. Telling someone your float plans allows for other people to realize that something may have happened to you and they should call the authorities. A float plan should include where you are going and how long you intend to be gone. It may also include your name, address, phone number of the captain or trip leader, name and phone number of the passengers, boat registration information, types of onboard communication like a personal locator beacon or an emergency position indicating radio beacon, and a trip itinerary.

Bring an adequate amount of life jackets

Most drownings occur because the victim was not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets are great and keeping you and your loved ones above water. Make sure your boat is equipped with enough life jackets for everyone on board.

You are not a pirate

Drinking and piloting a ship is dangerous.  It is bested to save the alcohol for another time. The probability of boating accidents doubles when people are drinking on the water. One reason for the increased risk is that the sun and wind of open water exacerbate the effects of alcohol.

Know how to swim

Knowing how to swim necessary if you plan on being around deep water. People go overboard often, and an individual who goes overboard without the ability to swim may drown. Swimming lessons for all ages are easy to find, so check your local area to see if there is an available class.

Take a boating class

Both veterans and boating novices need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements vary by state. Some state may require a boater to complete at least one boating safety course. Even if your state does not require a boating class, attending one may give you the knowledge you need to avoid an accident or to be prepared if a disaster arises.  Many communities have local boating safety courses, and some are available online.

Check to see that your watercraft is seaworthy

The US Coast Guard offers a free boat check to see if the craft is seaworthy. They check to make sure it meets safety standards as well as state and federal regulations. They also offer safety checks online.