Friday, May 23, 2014

Row, Row, Row Your Boat….Safely

by Carol Grinage, American Red Cross volunteer contributor

With summer right around the corner, many people have vacations that involve activities on the water. One summer activity that many people love is boating; however, this fun activity requires precautions. 

Since it's National Safe Boating Week, before you go out in a boat, please keep the following safe boating tips in mind:

  • Learn to swim. If you plan on spending time on a boat, it is essential that you learn to swim. The Red Cross offers swim classes that will fit your schedule.
  • Wear a life jacket. Regardless of whether you know how to swim, a life jacket is essential. Why? You may sustain an injury or be knocked unconscious, and in these cases, a life jacket could save your life. Also, many great swimmers cannot battle the forces of the waves or the cool water temperatures, and again, a life jacket could save lives.
  • Take a boating course. Most people don’t think about boating courses, but these courses teach you the rules of navigation, the effects of wind and weather, and emergency safety procedures. You can find boating classes through the National Safe Boating Council.
  • Remember Operation Dry Water – don’t drink and boat. Alcohol is responsible for 17% of boating fatalities, making it the number one cause of boating deaths. Drinking while boating is just as dangerous as drinking while driving, and the you could receive a BUI (Boating Under the Influence).
  • Have a float plan. What is a float plan? It is a plan that you leave someone who is not going boating with you that tells where you will be boating, who is on the boat, a description of your boat, and when you will return. This is detailed information in case you don’t return within a designated time frame and the person who holds the plan must contact authorities to find you. 

These tips aren’t meant to put a damper on your summer activities; instead, these tips are to help you make sure your fun summer activities stay fun. Have a happy summer and safe boating!

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