Safety First

To keep your boating adventures going smoothly, keep these smart tips in mind.

Photo of young boy wearing a lifejacketPhoto: Thinkstock

Alarm Yourself

Even in a center console, a fume and smoke alarm, appropriately mounted, is critically important. For example, your 'tween decks area aft where the hull and transom join often contain a battery, battery wiring, wiring running to the motor and aft running light, and a gas line. The area under the center console may contain the access to the top of the gas tank and many wiring connections. An alarm will give you notice that something is amiss while you can still do something to keep yourself safe.

Don't Gasp!

The second you think you'll fall into cold water, take a deep breath and cover your nose and mouth. Try to keep your head from submerging. This can reduce the involuntary muscle spasms that can lead to drowning. Then get out of the water no matter what you climb up on, even if it's someone else's boat.

Vision Preservation

Photo of couple wearing sunglasses

Wear effective sunglasses during the day to improve your evening and night vision. Best tint colors are amber, brown, and gray (provides true color clarity).

Don't Rely On Cell Phones

Photo of a personal locator becon

No matter how small your boat, always carry a VHF radio to reach other boaters and the authorities in case you get into distress.

Be Prepared To Ditch

If your boat catches fire, you may have only a minute or so to save the situation. Safety items such as a PLB, strobe light, waterproof handheld VHF, life jacket, and other items should be within immediate reach. You won't have time to find and collect them before you must jump over. A ditch bag at the helm and already containing safety items is invaluable.


Captains, before setting out, give a short briefing on safety issues to every crew member. Cover life jacket wear, staying seated while underway, location and operation of safety and communications equipment, and any other issues specific to the boat or the boating area. At the very least, before you leave the dock, make sure that every person aboard, no matter how young, knows where the cell phone is and how to call 911, and where the VHF radio is and how to activate the Distress button.

Storing Air Horns Safely

Don't store air horns in the sun, in hot shade, or behind a windshield, especially at eye level. They can explode. It's better to keep them lower and in a cooler place. Just make sure you know where yours is. 

— Published: Fall 2014


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