The boating industry in the US is considered to be a significant economic sector within our economy. Industry estimates indicate that over 80 million people in the country will “climb aboard” some type of vessel this year. Hundreds of thousands of US jobs are directly or indirectly impacted by the boating industry. The auto industry, although on a larger scale, has some clear similarities to the boat industry. Obviously, they are both vehicles used for personal, recreational and commercial uses and applications. The majority of both of automobiles and watercraft are motor-driven and feature many different options, accessories and safety features. Both have a somewhat predictable life-span associated with their age and usage and are composed of predominately recyclable materials that are processed after they are no longer in service. Both types of vehicles are also commonly donated for various reasons; in fact, the firms that facilitate auto and boat donation are becoming increasingly visible. Similar to cars, boat donations are typically eligible to render tax-related incentives and benefits for the boat owner. Being that car ownership is much more prevalent than boat ownership, many people may be less informed about the critical safety features and considerations related to boating, some of which will be outlined here further.
- Monitoring the weather reports is always a necessary safety precaution, particularly when venturing into larger, more volatile bodies of water. Emerging storms can generate rapidly changing wind patterns that can result in hazardous boating conditions.
- Inspecting and/or testing of the safety features of the boat should be conducted prior to departure. Some of these items may include the various electric-powered features including the boat’s navigation lights, horn and radio, if so equipped. Additionally, it is recommended to visually confirm that the vessel’s battery is properly secured and that the covers for the battery posts have not become porous or dislodged.
- Observing that items necessary to sustain the passengers in the event of being “stranded” for an extended period of time are present. These articles may include sunscreen; clean drinking water and a small supply of any time-sensitive prescription medications are on-hand.
- The presence of life-jackets is a critical precaution, particularly ensuring that there is a proper supply to match the number of people (and even pets) that will be on-board. It is important to confirm that the supply of vests on-hand contain sizes that will fit to accommodate larger passengers. Being a good swimmer is no substitute for a safety jacket!
- Confirm that fire extinguisher(s) are in place and that they are functional. Although the boat is travelling atop a large body of water, the mere presence of fuel (gasoline) creates a potential risk for a blaze.
- Check the inventory of life saving flotation-style devices and that they are well secured to the vessel. These should be light-weight enough to be tossed if needed.
- Remind all passengers of the importance of responsible alcohol consumption. Accidents stemming from excessive alcohol use while on the water are unfortunately all too common.