It’s spring on the Alabama coast and that means folks will be getting out the boats and hitting the waterways. It’s also a good time for boating safety reminders before launching into the season.
First, check local weather forecasts for conditions before you take off. Storms come up fast on the Gulf Coast, so boaters should stay aware. If you notice darkening clouds, rough winds or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
Second, use common sense. Operate at a safe speed, especially in crowded areas; stay alert and steer clear of large vessels. Also, be respectful of buoys and navigational aids.
Third, have someone else on board who is familiar with your boat’s handling, operations and general boating safety.
Fourth, be sure someone at the marina or a family member or friend knows where you are going and how long you’ll be gone. Include the boat type and registration information.
Fifth, keep communication and signal equipment onboard, such as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Personal Locator Beacon.
Sixth – and y’all knew this one was coming – have life jackets on board. Make sure there are enough jackets for everyone . . . and wear them!
Seventh, save the alcohol for later. Many boaters associate a good day on the water with a cooler full of beer, but the probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved. Remember, the effects of alcohol are exacerbated by sun and wind.
Lastly, take a boating safety course and consider a free vessel-safety check. Both can help refresh your skills and knowledge of your boat and ensure the safety of your passengers. Contact your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for more information.
Now you’re ready to get out there and enjoy our beautiful waterways!