Ship Shape: Understanding Boat Safety

Ship Shape: Understanding Boat Safety
When it comes to the open water, there are more safety concerns than many people realize. While most of the basic rules still apply, boat safety is quite different from pool safety.

In today’s post, we’ll explore some of the specific ways a person can help to prevent drowning while shipping out!

Boat Safety Starts with Clear Rules

The most important boat safety lesson is to set some clear ground rules. After all, there are different rules for the open wavy waters of the lake or ocean versus the relatively calm water in your home pool. These are especially important for kids, but you may be surprised to see how many adults need a reminder of basic safety guidelines as well. Before heading out to sea, go over the safety rules with every member of your crew, no matter their age.

Here are some general rules to mention:

  • No running onboard the vessel
  • When moving, keep your hands and feet in the boat at all times.
  • Only swim in areas that are explicitly designated for swimming
  • Don’t dive into the water. You never know how deep (or shallow!) it may be.

Always Wear a Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket

One of the cardinal rules of boat safety is to always use a life jacket. However, it won’t due to just pick any life jacket. Instead, be sure you choose a floatation device that meets the rigorous testing standards of the U.S. Coast Guard. By abiding by these standards, you stand a far greater chance of avoiding a potentially deadly situation. Life jackets are meant to keep your head above water and help you to remain in a position that permits proper breathing. For further information, check out our post about choosing a safe life jacket.

Beware of Cold Water Shock

Beyond drowning, cold water shock is another serious safety concern. As we enter the chillier months of the year, this is a serious danger for proper boat safety.

In a nutshell, the human body has an immediate and automatic reaction to being suddenly submerged under cold water. When you aren’t prepared, the shock of the icy water can force you to gasp for a breath of air. If you’re underwater at that moment, you might accidentally inhale a gulp of water instead of oxygen. Obviously, this is quite dangerous. Many a person has died from this all-too-common circumstance. To learn more, read our dedicated article about the dangers of cold water shock. 

Don’t Drink and Sail

Just like in the pool, drinking alcohol and hitting the water is a bad idea. The truth is, alcohol often leads to poor decision making. This is dangerous enough when you are swimming or hanging out in the hot tub or pool. However, when you are operating a vessel or exploring the seas, this can become even more hazardous to your health. If you fall off the boat while drinking, you may pass out and slip under the water. Your drinking friends may not realize that you’ve fallen off. If you’re at the wheel, it’s quite possible that you can crash. The responsible road to boat safety is to leave the booze at home. Drinking and the water are a dangerous combination. Instead, avoid a potential tragedy by sailing clean and sober.

Swimming Lessons are Always a Good Idea

Finally, swimming lessons are crucial in any water situation. This is just as true for boat safety as it is for pool safety. That goes for all ages. There are plenty of professional lessons available, so it is never too late to learn. More than any other safety precaution, being a strong swimmer can absolutely save your life.