CLEARWATER — Whether you wade in, dive in, or grab a paddle, you can never be too careful when it comes water safety.
And that’s especially true when you hit the water in a boat or canoe.
Karen Miller with USCG Auxiliary Clearwater, Flotilla 11-1, offers some basic safety tips that can save your life, or the life of someone near and dear to you.
• Wear a life jacket.
A properly fitting life jacket is key when you are on the water, no matter what the activity.
• Know state boating laws.
Rules and laws can differ from state to state and violations can result in ticketing, fines or jail time.
• Take a boating safety course.
USCGA offers a boating safety course, the widely acclaimed “About Boating Safely” course. The ABS Class is taught by certified U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary instructors who can answer questions and share their experiences on our local waters. Topics usually discussed include boating emergencies, knowing your boat, getting underway, navigating, operating safely and legal requirements, as well as free vessel safety checks with decal.
Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988, who wants to drive a boat alone must take a Florida approved boating course.
• Be sure to know your boat’s capacity.
If you have too much equipment on your boat — or too many people — the boat may become unstable and capsize.
• Check the weather.
Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out, and keep a regular check for changing conditions.
• Don’t drink while you boat.
Alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths in 2016. Don’t drink and drive — whether it’s a car or a boat.
• Know the “Rules of the Road.”
This includes operator’s responsibility, maintaining a proper lookout, safe speed, crossing, meeting head-on and overtaking situations.
• Keep in touch.
Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet.