Summer is here and you’re ready to head out on your boat and enjoy some time on the water.  Who doesn’t love boating?  Boating can be relaxing, exciting, entertaining and rejuvenating time.  Hauling a boat on a trailer and launching it at the busy launch ramp can have it challenges.  It can be dauntingly stressful and dangerous, and at times mishaps can occur.

Tips for Boat Trailer Safety

Follow this safety checklist before you haul your boat to your destination and into the water.

  • Coupler, hitch and hitch ball are of the same size.
  • Coupler and safety chains are safely secured to the hitch of the tow vehicle.
  • All fasteners are properly tightened.
  • Boat is securely tied down to trailer (winch line is not a tie down).
  • Wheel lug nuts are properly adjusted and maintained.
  • Load is within maximum load carrying capacity.
  • Tires are properly inflated.
  • All trailer lighting is working properly.
  • Trailer brakes are properly adjusted and working (if trailer is so equipped).
  • Brakes and additional equipment meet all local and state requirements.

At Lancaster Insurance Center, we want your boating season to be enjoyable while on the open water, instead of experiencing frustration while on the boat ramp or on the road.

Preventing Accidents

Your boat is finally in the water, here are some tips for an accident free boating experience.

  1. Life preservers aren’t only for kids. Make sure you have life jackets on board – wear them!  When an accident occurs people rarely are wearing them and don’t have enough time to react to grab a life jacket. Not only do the rules apply to children, but adults as well. More people in their 30’s die in boating accidents than any other age group.  Life vests have come a long way in style, and you can even pickup a vest for your water-loving dog.
  2. Watch the back of your boat. Carbon Monoxide kills in minutes. Inform all your passenger where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are on the water, and don’t let passenger “water-ski or teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats.
  3. Alcohol and boating don’t mix. More than 50% of drowning results from boating incidents where alcohol is involved. Don’t drink and drive.  Not only is drinking and driving illegal in cars, it is as well in boats.
  4. Care of your boat. When you get ready to head out on the water make sure gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease.  Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged.  Every year you should have a certified marine technician look over your boats operating system.
  5. Boating experience matters! Did you know, 70% of all boating accidents occur due to operator errors, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Don’t just let anyone drive your boat.  Make sure they are properly trained. Safety first!

Driving You’re Boat in the Dark

An evening cruise on your boat can be an enjoyable time.  Like an evening drive in your car after sundown, it’s imperative you make some adjustments in keeping yourself and others safe.

Here are some tips to safeguard that you will return to shore and enjoy the rest of your evening.

Before You Get on the Boat

  1. Know where you’re going. Everything looks different in the dark, stay in an area you are familiar with when you’re on the water at night. Having a GPS device or an old-fashioned compass is good to have to help with navigation.
  2. Let someone know where you’re going. Provide a “float plan” to a trusted friend or family member. It should include your intended route, boats registration details and description, names of all passengers and when you plan to return.  No one will know you’re missing if they don’t know you’re gone.
  3. Have the right safety equipment. Make sure you have navigation lights that work (test before hand), a horn or other sound-producing device, a radio, a flashlight, flares and fire extinguishers. Make sure everyone has a life jacket.
  4. Check the weather and your fuel tank. Make sure you have enough fuel in the event you get caught in a storm. It can be very dangerous and troublesome at night if you run out of fuel.  Visibility is already troublesome, and the storm will only make things worse.  If you’re stranded without fuel, help may take longer to respond.

Once You’re Afloat

  1. Watch your speed. When on the water at night you can’t see, and there is no indication of other boats or obstacles that may appear suddenly. Take it slow!
  2. Watch the lights. Know what lights on other boats indicate – now you must look for them. Lights on anchored or drifting boats can be exceptionally difficult to distinguish from lights onshore.
  3. Avoid distractions – drinking and driving. Don’t drink and drive while operating a boat, it puts you and other people at risk. Your vision is limited at night, sound becomes more important.  Remember, a loud stereo could drown out the horn of an approaching boat.
  4. Remember, it’s not only you out on the water. There could be other vessels or boats on the water such as, commercial ships to kayaks; depending where you are at.  Remember to obey the right-of-way rules and keep your distance and courteous when passing others.  It’s open water and there is plenty of room for everyone, if you keep an eye out for each other.
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