National Safe Boating Week: A Focus on Safety on the Water
With the official start of summer fast approaching, boating safety advocates across the country have teamed up to promote safe and responsible boating through National Safe Boating Week.
This annual boating safety awareness campaign runs from May 20 to 26 and is a great time to brush up on your boating safety practices.
The Safe Boating Campaign, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard, encourages all boaters to follow these tips for ensuring a safe enjoyable time on the water this summer that is free of boating accidents.
Although boating safety is an important part of preventing accidents on the water, accidents can still happen. If they do, our New Jersey boating accident attorneys may be able to help. Contact us to learn more about your legal options.
Before You Hit the Water
Boating safety starts on land before you head for the water. In New Jersey, you must be 16 years of age or older and have a New Jersey Boating Safety Certificate to operate a power vessel, including personal watercraft, on New Jersey waters.
If you are between the ages of 13 and 16, you must also have a Boating Safety Certificate to operate a vessel powered solely by an electric motor or a vessel that is 12 feet long or longer with less than 10 horse power.
To obtain a Boating Safety Certificate, you must complete a boating safety course approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators.
If you will be operating a boat on non-tidal waters, such as a lake or reservoir, you must obtain a non-tidal boat license issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Vessel Safety Check
Before heading to the water at the start of boating season, you should also ensure that your boat is in full compliance with all federal and state boating laws by scheduling a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
Whether you are a power boater or kayaker, you should create a float plan before setting out for a boating trip. You can use the U.S. Coast Guard’s downloadable float plan or create your own with the essential information detailing:
- Your boating trip, including when you are leaving, where you are going and when you should return
- The boat
- Everyone on board
- The towing or trailer vehicle
- The communication equipment you have on board
- Emergency contacts
Send your detailed float plan to a trusted friend or family member.
Essentials for Safe Boating
When on the water, there are several essential items you will need, including:
- One Coast Guard approved life jacket per person on board
- Visual distress signals, such as a flare
- Sound producing devices, such as a whistle or horn
- Locator device
- Fire extinguisher
- Navigation lights
- Water to stay hydrated
- Correct permits and decals
The New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau details the safety equipment that vessels of all sizes are required to carry.
The Importance of Life Jacket Use on Boats
Each year, hundreds of people are killed in boating accidents. In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that drowning was the leading cause of death in boating fatalities. In a staggering 85 percent of those incidents, the victim was not wearing a life jacket.
Many boating accidents can be prevented by exercising simple, safe boating practices. Something as easy as wearing a life jacket every time you are on a boat can go a long way toward preventing injuries and death.
It is important to note, however, that simply storing the life jacket on the boat is not enough. Boaters should wear a life jacket every time they are on the water, as accidents often happen far too fast to get a life jacket that may be stowed away.
Many new life jackets are easier to put on and use; they are also smaller and more comfortable. Inflatable devices that you can wear while fishing or hunting can also be useful.
You should ensure that your life jacket fits properly by making sure:
- The life jacket is properly fastened
- All buckles, straps or zippers are secure
- You can hold your arms over your head
- The life jacket remains secure if a friend grasps the tops of the arm openings and pulls up
Never Boat Under the Influence
Just as you should never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should never boat while under the influence.
Boating while intoxicated is illegal in New Jersey. Those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher who are convicted of driving under the influence will have their boating and driving privileges suspended. Those under the age of 17 will have their vehicle driving privileges delayed for a term equal to the suspension period.
Be Prepared for Environmental and Weather Factors
When on the water, the weather can change almost instantly. It is vital that you check the weather before heading out on the water and prepare appropriately for the weather you could experience.
You should also regularly check for any changing conditions while you are on the water.
If you are boating in cold water, wear several lawyers that can protect against the water temperature and bring an extra set of clothes in a dry bag.
Other Safe Boating Tips
You should also use the following tips every time you boat.
- Know and adhere to the abilities of your boat.
- Know New Jersey’s boating laws and follow navigation rules, such as maintaining safe speeds, keeping a proper lookout, and knowing how to handle head-on and overtaking situations.
- Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur on gasoline-powered boats.
Dedicated New Jersey Boating Lawyers
Despite all of your preparation and planning, boating accidents can happen. If you are injured or lost a loved one in a boating accident caused by another’s negligence, you should not hesitate to contact the experienced boating accident lawyers at Lynch Law Firm, PC to learn more about your legal options.
You may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the many damages you have experienced, such as medical bills, lost wages and more.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. We do not get paid unless you do.
Call (800) 518-0508 today.