Boat & Beach Safety Messages

 

 

During the warm weather months, millions of people head to Michigan beaches to swim and boat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when on or in the water.

 

1.  Start each trip in your boat by going through a checklist of equipment and operation procedures, just like an airline pilot. Check your fuel supply and make sure you have everything you need for a happy and safe day on the water, including a marine first-aid kit and a weather radio.

 2.  When you take your family for a boat ride, tell a friend or neighbor where you are going and when you expect to return. If you change plans, let them know.

 3.  Know the rules of the water and practice safe boating. Safe boaters have more fun. Contact your local coast guard auxiliary, power squadron, or Red Cross for details about taking a boating safety course.

 4.  Boating is safer and more fun when your boat is properly outfitted. Check with your nearest coast guard auxiliary for a free examination. Also check your boat's capacity plate. It tells you how many people can safely be on board. Overloading is not only against the law, it's dangerous.

 5.  Nothing can ruin a happy day afloat faster than being caught in a storm. Before you set sail, check the forecast and keep your weather radio with you for updated reports.

 6.  Boaters are required to have personal flotation devices, also known as life jackets on board for each passenger, even children. Keep your life jacket in top notch condition and ready for use at all times. Better yet, wear it.

 7.  The wind can play some nasty tricks on a novice sailor in a small sailboat. The easiest way out of trouble is to let go of the main sheet. This will cock your bow into the wind almost immediately. It won't look very seamanlike, but it will save you from a dunking.

 8.  Red and green lights on the water mean almost the same as they do on the highway. If you see the red light of another boat on a converging course, you must yield the right of way. If you see the green light of another boat on a converging course, you have the right of way. But be a defensive skipper and don't force the issue.

 9.  Children love boats, but they also need special attention. Make sure the small children on your boat wear proper flotation devices at all times. Try to keep them seated and never let them lean over the side.

 10. The man overboard drill is as important on a small boat as it is on an ocean liner. Learn and practice the proper procedure for retrieving someone who has fallen overboard. Your nearest coast guard office can help you learn the procedure. By the same

token, the law of the sea has always required vessels in the vicinity of an accident to aid the victims. Such aid is required by the federal boat safety act, but common sense says that good skippers are good samaritans too.

 11. Clowns and cowboys are great the circus or rodeo, but they have no place on the waterways. Buzzing beaches, docks and other boats can cause an accident, disrupt other peoples' fun and land you in jail.

 12. Inspect your boat trailer thoroughly before heading to the lake. Tires, brakes, and safety chains should all be checked. Don't be the victim of a dry land boating accident.

 13.  If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm. Don’t fight the current. Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.

 14. Don’t become a victim while trying to help someone else caught in a rip current. Get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard isn’t present, yell instruction on how to escape. If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats.

 15.  If you intend to go into the water, make sure you know how to swim. Never swim alone. For maximum safety, swim near a lifeguard. Be cautious at all times.

 16.  Be aware of the signs of rip currents. Things to look for include:

·         A channel of churning choppy water

·         A difference in water color

·         A line of seaweed or debris moving out into the lake

·         A break in the incoming wave pattern


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