Many anglers have their own boats for a lot of good reasons. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. While the goal of recreational fishing is to have fun, staying safe on a boat should also be top priority.
Here are some tips on how to make boat fishing trips worry-free.
Have the right life jackets
Around 80% of fatal boating accidents involved victims drowning—83% of which were not wearing life jackets. This is precisely why you should invest in them not just for yourself, but for everyone on board.
Life jackets have multiple variations depending on the situation. Type I personal flotation devices (PFDs), for example, are deemed effective in all types of waters, but Type II and Type III PFDs are more suitable for calmer waters. Check out each type and see what suits your trips best here.
Of course, this also means having a float plan by telling friends and family (1) where you’ll be fishing and (2) when you’ll return to shore. It’s a simple solution, but through it, the authorities can be alerted in case you aren’t back by then.
Check your boat… and yourself
As an extra layer of safety, you can have your boat checked by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron for free. But after getting assurance that a boat is doing fine, the next step is to check who will be steering it. In this case, yourself.
Inattention is among the top five contributing factors to boating accidents. Therefore, you have to make sure that you’re alert and looking in front of and around you while boating. This means no phone while boating, and more importantly, no drinking alcohol. All 50 states deem operating a boat under the influence of alcohol (BUI) illegal, and rightly so, as it causes around one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
Of course, the goal is to stay safe on a boat and not add to these already disturbing statistics.
Prepare a safety kit
Nationwide lists down the essentials of a boating safety kit. Other than life jackets, you should have duct tape and a bucket to help with leakages or water entering your boat. A flashlight and a mirror could either (1) help you see during night time or (2) signal for help when needed. If not a mirror, a whistle (preferrably waterproof) could also do the trick.
Two absolutely necessary items for this kit, though, is a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. You never know when medical emergencies or fires occur, even on a boat—you’re better off being prepared instead of dumbfounded when any of them occur. Ropes could come in handy as well in case anyone falls overboard.
Do your research
Boat-ed.com has some affordable safety courses on boating laws for each state. But really, a quick Google search will provide you with most of the information you need to know when boating at your local waterway. Equipment helps, yes, but part of checking yourself includes having ample knowledge about the ins and outs of boating safety. Most of the tips mentioned in this article are surface-level, after all.
A similarly important topic to research is your local weather forecast—not just before boating, but while you’re out in the water as well. In 2016, a staggering 41 deaths were attributed to weather conditions. Bring a portable radio with you to help out with updates, as inclement weather could come at any time.
Overall, knowledge is key to staying safe on a boat. For more tips and tricks, make sure to check out our blog here.