As we continue our Lake Safe series, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency shares safety tips for boaters.
- Check out your boat: Many people put their boats in the water without first checking belts, fluids and motors, and end up having to be towed in. Make sure your boat is in good working order before taking it out for the first time.
- Check your safety equipment: Often boaters take their safety equipment out of the boat for the winter season. Make sure all required equipment is put on the boat and is in good working order.
- Check your life jackets: Make sure all life jackets are in good working order. All straps, buckles and zippers need to be operational, and the life jackets cannot have any rips or tears.
- Take a boating class: An informed boater is a safe boater. By learning the boating laws and the rules of the road, you can make better decisions on the water, keeping yourself and your passengers safe. Boating classes are offered around the state and in Alabama, if you drive a boat, you must have an operator’s license.
- Learn courtesy on the water: From the time you start to tow the boat to the launching ramp until the time you take it out at night, courtesy plays a big part in the boating adventure. Remember the golden rule and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Be careful of your wake, both around homes and around other boaters. Don’t tie up the launching ramp while loading equipment on and off your boat.
- Keep a weather eye out: Storms can come up quickly, especially in the summertime, so keep an eye to the sky. Watch for temperature changes, shifts in wind patterns and changes in cloud formations. All these can signal storms moving in. If caught in a storm, try to get to the nearest safe shelter. If you have to ride the storm out on the water, have everyone put on a life jacket and get as close to the centerline as possible, keep the bow of the boat to the wind, and ride the waves at a 45 degree angle.
- Drive Defensively: Be aware of what other boaters are doing around you. Even if you have the right-of -way, if the other boater doesn’t give way to your vessel, you give way! Especially keep an eye out for boaters on Jet Skis, Sea Doo etc. Being smaller, they tend to get overlooked by other boaters.
- Don’t drink and drive a boat: Just like on the highway, drinking and operating a boat is against the law. In many ways, it can be even more dangerous. Boaters tend to get a condition called boater’s fatigue, caused by the glare of the sun, action of the waves and general tiredness, towards the end of the day. Adding alcohol to this can create a deadly combination!