It’s that time of year again, summer is here and people throughout the Central Valley are heading to recreational areas to enjoy boats, jet skis, and other water recreation activities. It is important to remember that Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is a crime and there are penalties for operating under the influence. In addition to boating sober, there are numerous other tips to help keep you safe on the water.
While accidents do happen, being prepared can help keep you and your passengers safe. Preparation can also help you avoid boating accidents altogether.
Make Proper Use of Life Jackets
It is required that you carry an approved personal flotation device or life jacket for each person aboard your vessel. It is typically recommended that you wear a life jacket at all times while boating. A majority of drowning victims are the result of boaters not wearing life jackets. Statistics have proven that in the event of an accident, or falling overboard, your chances of survival are significantly higher if you are wearing a life jacket.
Know Your Boat
You should be familiar with your boat when it comes to managing the boat, navigation, safety, handling, anchoring, troubleshooting engine problems, and appropriate emergency response. Knowing your boat inside and out is the foundation of good boating safety practices.
Take a Boating Safety Course
Formal boating education is important to the safety of your passengers and yourself. A boating safety course will teach you the basics of seamanship and help keep you prepared at all times. You can even take an online boater safety course to help educate yourself.
Intoxication on the water is extremely dangerous. Besides the safety risks involved, it is illegal to boat while intoxicated. By operating a vessel on California waters, you have consented to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs if arrested by a law enforcement official. Refusal to submit to testing may result in increased penalties. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) can carry fines, jail or prison time, and an alcohol/drug education program. You may also face possible suspension or revocation of your vehicle driver’s license.
Use Common Sense
One of the most important aspects of boating safety is using common sense. This includes operating your vessel at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. You should also remain alert at all times and be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids which have been placed there to ensure your safety.
Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check
The US Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks. As part of the safety check they verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations. Free of charge, the US Coast Guard will provide a specialist to check out your boat and make helpful boating safety tips and recommendations.