Boat safety should be part of Wisconsin’s three great seasons for boating. Yes, 3 seasons and then comes winter!
- Life Jackets are Mandatory: We all understand that life jackets can save lives. But so many of us don’t bother wearing them when we hit the water. Whether you don’t like the way they feel, or they don’t look cool, life jackets are there for a purpose. Make sure all kids wear their life jackets. A life jacket could easily save your child’s life. Besides – It’s the Law.
- Just like driving a car – Drinking and driving do NOT mix: Have a designated driver if you plan to drink. In Wisconsin boating violations, like drunk driving, count against your driver’s license and your insurance premiums.
- Check Your Lights: Are all of your boat’s lights working correctly? Don’t forget how quickly the sun sets. You don’t want to go back in the dark.
- Watch the Weather: Summer weather in Wisconsin can be unpredictable. Make sure you check the forecast and continue to keep tabs on the weather throughout the day. Don’t get caught in a sudden storm. It only takes about 15 minutes to go from clouds to a violent storm on the Bay.
Avoiding Boating Accidents
Here’s a hard fact: Boating accidents, like failure to yield right of way, to approaching a dock too fast, are all too common. Most of these accidents were avoidable.
Additionally, 15% of all boating deaths had alcohol involved. Another 83% of drowning victims did not have a PFD.
It’s not a question IF boating accidents are a problem but instead, what can be done to reduce the rate of these accidents?
How You Can Prevent a Boating Accident
- Boating and Booze Do Not Mix: Do not drink and operate your vessel. If you take drinking and driving your car seriously, then the same caution should be exercised on the water.
Operating a boat while over the alcohol limit is illegal and puts everyone on the water at risk. You have slowed reaction times and a lack of judgment.
- Make PFDs mandatory: So often, an otherwise minimal accident can turn tragic if a passenger falls into the water without it. Remember, they do not have a seatbelt.
Though you may be a good swimmer, there are many ways that you could end up injured and unable to swim. That’s not to mention the possibility of rough waves, which could make swimming back to your boat impossible.
- Follow posted speed and wake limits and stay vigilant for risks.
Like car accidents, some things are out of your control. However, boating accidents are minimized if boaters simply:
- Stay sober behind the wheel,
- Wear PFDs,
- Follow speed and wake limits, and
- Brush up on the essential safety standards of operation.
Is a Boat Safety Course for you?
If you’re a new boater, boating safety courses are a no-brainer. Here are some take-homes you will learn:
- Boat Operation: There are some easily overlooked best practices that can help you avoid collisions, run aground or otherwise damage your boat.
- Emergency Procedures: From fires to dangerous weather, when you’re facing an emergency on the water, every second counts.
- Navigation: Even if you know your favorite boating spot like the back of your hand, there are too many variables to go without trip planning and preparation. These classes can teach you the safest ways to plan your next boating trip.
- Equipment: Even the safest boaters should know what equipment could save their lives in emergency situations. Ensure that all of your safety equipment is up to the task of keeping you and yours out of danger.
- Emergency Cut-Off Switch: If you go overboard, the last thing you want to see is your boat speeding away from you – especially if you aren’t wearing your PFD. Use a kill switch/emergency or cut-off switch fastened to your clothing. This ensures that the engine will shut off if you find yourself thrown into the water. It’s much like the shutoff switch on a treadmill at the gym.
- Keep Contact: Keep others informed about your boating plans. Let them know where you are going, especially if boating alone. Always keep a VHF radio on you, as well as your cell phone, safely stored in a waterproof container.
Boating safety classes will teach you the right procedure for most critical situations you may encounter while boating.
Practice boat safety and enjoy the ride.
PWS is located in the center of Door County at 7325 St Hwy 57. It is located 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and South of Sturgeon Bay. Look for the intersection of Idlewild Road.
Want us to address a dock or boat lift topic for you? Feel free to give us a call.