If you are new to boating or even if you grew up on the water you should always use caution and learn some basic tips for boating safety. The safer you make boating the better time you and the whole family will have.
Make sure you have one life vest per person on the boat and one throwable floatation device and all must be coast guard approved. If the boat is going down do you have a life vest close by for you and everyone on the boat? If not you are already breaking the law in some waters and playing a very stupid and unsafe game. Invest in Coast Guard approved life vests.
Always fill out a float plan about your boat trip before leaving the dock and leave a copy with someone who will not be going on the trip with you. You can get a float plan template from the Coast Guard website or make up one of your own. A float plan details the time you are setting sail, where you are going, who is on the boat, the name of the boat and other information the Coast Guard will need in the event they need to find you. It takes less than 10 minutes to fill one out but could mean the world of a difference.
You may not be planning on staying out until it is dark, but you never know what could happen. Check all the lights on your boat to make sure they are working properly. You do not want to get caught out in the dark with no lights. It is unsafe, stupid and you would be breaking the law.
Pack extra maps, flares, a whistle, first aid kit, and an extra hand held radio or CB. In the event of an emergency you want to make sure you have extra supplies that could mean the difference in a making a bad situation better or worse. Maps in case you go down the wrong river, a whistle in case your boat’s horn is not working properly, first aid kit for injuries, and the extra radio in case the one your boat has stops working. Always abide by murphy’s law, and that is anything that can go wrong, will.
Monitor the weather for the day you will be out on the water. If they are calling for a good chance of rain of severe weather conditions do not risk it. Stay off the water that day. If it turns out to be a nice day, then oh well, at least you are safe. Tomorrow will always be another opportunity to enjoy the water.
Boating is meant to be an enjoyable experience and fool of fun for the friends and family. When you do not exercise caution it could turn into a deadly disaster. Whenever in doubt about a situation always be conservative and use common sense. If rough water conditions make you nervous or unsure about yourself or your abilities then it is best to stay off the water that day. Take the necessary steps to not endanger yourself or those that are on your watercraft.