Stay Safe on the Lake This Summer

There’s nothing better than enjoying a nice, relaxing day on the lake.  Whether you have your own boat, or are renting, here are some safety tips from Popular Mechanics:

  • Stay Afloat: You’ve heard it before: Life jackets save lives. According to Coast Guard studies, 90 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Of the remaining 10 percent, many were wearing a model that wasn’t designed to keep the head out of the water after the wearer lost consciousness. Legally, having PFDs in the boat is good enough—it’s not mandatory that you wear a life jacket, just that there’s one onboard for each person on a boat. Read More
  • Stay Alert: It’s a sad fact that 17 percent of all recreational boating fatalities are the direct result of drunk boating, or BUI (boating under the influence). While attitudes toward land-based drinking and driving have evolved significantly in the past couple of decades, downing a cold one as the wake fans out behind you still feels like a rite of summer. “It’s not illegal to drink in boats. The problem is, people often don’t know when to stop,” says Jennings, whose office has seen accidents in which drunk boaters plowed into bridges, jetties, as well as other boats. “Very rarely is a stone-sober mariner involved in a serious boating accident.” Read More
  • Stay in Touch: Cellphone coverage is often spotty; phones can get wet, and batteries can die. A modern VHF marine radio, on the other hand, is a near guarantee that you’ll be able to communicate with rescuers and guide them to your exact location in the event of an accident. (A good marine radio runs about $100, provides frequent weather updates and can be connected to your boat’s GPS for even greater geographic accuracy.) All marine radios sold after June 1999 have a built-in feature called DSC, or digital selective calling, a button that sends an automatic mayday call with your vessel’s name and location. Read More
  • Stay Informed: In most parts of the country, there are no licensing requirements for boat operators. But you can still hone your skills by taking a safe-boating course. (A class is also an excellent idea for young drivers; in most states kids as young as 12 are permitted to operate small motorboats.) Go to boatus.com to find classes near you. The best reason: Of those 700 annual fatalities, just 10 percent are in the boat with a driver who has had any sort of formal safety training. Read More
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