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How to stay safe on a boat

Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons
Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons

We Aussies love our boats, fishing, being on the water and in it.

When the weather turns warmer, everyone’s thoughts naturally turn to the best possible ways to keep cool! One of the best possible ways to stay cool is to get out on the water, whether you’re out in a kayak, a surfboard, or splashing around in the shallows. If you’re exceptionally lucky you’re going to be out on a boat. While boats are a great way to explore the water, it’s vital  you stay safe while you’re zipping around the harbour or  open water.

Below are a few quick tips to keep you safe while on a boat.

Wear a lifejacket

Every Australian boater, no matter what they’re doing, no matter how good of a swimmer that they are, should wear a lifejacket at all times. This dramatically decreases the risk of drowning should you have an accident or fall overboard unexpectedly. By making safety a priority, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself. A great way to ensure everyone wears a lifejacket is to make sure everyone has one (that fits) and to not make a big deal out of it. The statistics are crystal clear: Lifejackets save lives. It’s important your lifejackets are well fitted to each person on the boat. Properly fitted life jackets are more effective than an ill-fitted ones. That means you need to have a wide range of sizes for your boating guests.

Don’t drink

This sort of goes without saying, but then a nice hot day on the boat also lends itself to having a few. Alcohol is not the best thing to be drinking, because you’re going to get dehydrated and thirsty the more you drink. Make sure your fridge or esky is well packed with plenty of fruit juices, water, cordials and other kinds of non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol also impairs judgment, vision, balance, coordination and you’ll find that it is just as deadly as drinking and driving when you’re out on the open water. It’s not just people who are driving the boat who will be affected by drinking either, it’s passengers as well. Owing in large part to the sun and heat, people who drink on board a boat will find their judgement impaired and it’s been shown they’ll drink more and more quickly in that sort of environment. It’s best to just steer clear altogether than to try and limit and monitor everyone’s drinking. If you are captaining the boat, you and your sailing staff should not be drinking.

Check Your Boat

While marine engines are pretty hardy, there’s nothing worse than the thought of being stranded out in the middle of the ocean, bobbing around and waiting for someone to come and rescue you – especially when help might be hours away. The best way to stay safe on the water is to check your boat and the engine regularly. You should also check the flares, safety equipment and anything else related to your boat regularly to ensure it’s all there and in good working order.

Take a boating course

For all Aussie boat owners or boaters, it pays to be as prepared as you can be when you’re on the open water and being educated about the possible pitfalls and mishaps that can occur will ensure you’re ready if a challenge presents itself. Even if it’s unlikely a disaster will happen – it’s most likely going to be just a small mishap – but you and everyone else around you will feel a whole lot better knowing that you’re prepared for anything and everything that could possibly happen while you’re navigating the waters. Often, it’s the little things that ruin an otherwise great day out on the water.

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