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Practice Safe Boating
Some 626 people died in boating-related accidents in 2015, and 2,613 were injured, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. In order to stay safe on the water, follow these basic boating safety rules:
Have life jackets – and wear them. More than three-fourths of the people who died in boating accidents drowned. And 85 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets, according to the Coast Guard. Make sure you have an appropriately sized Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board. And then make sure everyone wears the jacket.
Don’t overload your boat. Most boats post the load limit. Know how many people – or pounds – your boat can carry safely, and don’t carry more than that.
Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol is the leading known contributor in fatal boating accidents, according to the Coast Guard. Alcohol not only can affect your ability to pilot the boat safely; it also can lead to taking risks and doing dangerous things on the water.
Know your boat. Before you pull away from the dock, make sure you know where all the controls are and what to do if you have an emergency. This is especially true if you are renting or borrowing a boat. If you own your own boat or boat frequently, take a safe boating class.
Check the weather. Don’t go out on the water if storms are expected. You increase your chances of being struck by lightning or capsized by waves.
Follow applicable navigation rules. For example, observe no-wake areas, and know where it is safe to go in your boat.
Have a way to make emergency contact. If you are not going far from shore, it probably is sufficient to have a charged cell phone. But if you are going far out, where cell phone service might be spotty, you need a radio.
Always let someone on land know when you leave, where you are going and when you expect to be back.