Habits help define who we are. Unfortunately, both our good
and our bad habits have a lot to say about the kinds of lives we lead—and when
it comes to boating, those bad habits can come back to bite you.
That should never be the case. Good, safe habits in boating
won’t only help you to adhere to all relevant safety regulations in your area,
but once they become automatic, they’ll help you to maintain a safe atmosphere
around your boat even when you’re not thinking about it. So let’s focus on
those good habits and learn a few that will help keep your boating activities
fun and safe.
1. A Pre-Launch Check
It’s not a great habit to launch a boat without first
checking the safety of everything involved. Think about a boat as something
like a miniature version of a plane: you still need to do a “pre-flight”
checklist…but you won’t have to check in with the tower. That puts a lot of
responsibility on your shoulders. If you’re not going to check your boat’s
systems to ensure they’re in working order, check your safety equipment to make
sure it’s ready to go, and more, then who is? A police boat, maybe—and that’s
not good for anyone. Instead, make sure your pre-launch check isn’t just an
occasional routine, but that it’s something you remember every single time.
2. Count Passengers
Counting passengers might seem arbitrary to some, but when
you have to wonder about weight limits and having enough safety equipment like
life preservers handy, it’s actually a necessity. Every person in charge of a
boat should be totally aware of who’s getting on their boat and what that will
mean. And it’s also a good idea to kick off any passenger who’s putting too
much strain on your boat. Don’t push the limits.
3. Check the Weather
Most people already keep their eyes on the weather if
they’re thinking about boating, of course, but you’ll want to make double-sure
to be aware of any potentially hazardous weather that could potentially end
your boating trip short. Hazardous weather can sneak up on you, especially if
you haven’t heard any weather predictions in a day or two.
4. Know How to Use Your
Not only should you know how to use it—and most fire
extinguishers will teach you this with a label that you can read—but it should
be easy to access if there is a fire. Many people aren’t concerned about fires
because of the abundance of water, until they actually encounter one on the
water. It can be scary. Be ready for it.
5. Check All Systems First
As part of the pre-launch checklist we mentioned, you should
always inspect your most important boating systems: engine, fuel, steering,
electrical, exhaust, etc. This won’t only help you keep tabs on your boat’s
maintenance status, but will alert you to any potential problems before you’re out on the lake.