On holidays, the waterways are usually more congested with a variety on boats, swimmers, and jet skis, many of whom are inexperienced. Collisions are the most common type of boating accident and operator inexperience and inattention are the leading causes. Remembering a few simple boating rules of the road, such as keeping a sharp lookout for other boat traffic, can help prevent collisions on congested waterways.
Many of these rules are similar to those for cars. Stay to the right side of channels. In a crossing situation, the person on the right has the right-of-way. When you meet another boat head-on, each boater should alter course to the right.
In congested areas, intoxicated operators and passengers can increase the already high risk of accident. Alcohol and boating can be a deadly mix, especially when combined with stressors in the marine environment, such as sun, glare, wind, heat, and boat and engine noise. Alcohol is involved in a large number of accident and boating fatalities.
Be sure to shut off your engine if you have anyone swimming or trying to enter your vessel. Not only are to props a dangerous hazard, but the carbon dioxide that accumulates under the swim platform of many boats can quickly poison adults and children and cause a healthy individual to pass out or drown.
Adults should also take precautions for their own safety. In a commonly seen accident scenario, parents insure the children are wearing life jackets, but neglect to wear life jackets themselves, instead relying on their swimming ability to keep them safe. Drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents and nobody can be expected to properly locate and put a life jacket on during a violent boat collision.
Swimming out too far, or attempting to retrieve gear in the water, and being swept away by currents, are all scenarios when the persons would have survived if they had been wearing their life jackets. With the recent drownings in Odenville, we also need to remember to try to rescue a drowning victim by trying to reach for them with an object like a pole or paddle; our second option is to throw something to them that will float (life jacket, floating cushion, etc.); and your last option is to try to save the person yourself. The last option could prove fatal for the rescuer and the victim.
If you are attending the firework celebration at Lakeside Park, the marine police would like to remind everyone of some basic tips to make the show more enjoyable and safer:
1. Move slowly through the show area. The area will be congested with other boaters and swimmers.
2. Keep your stern light on while anchored.
3. There will be a “No Boat” area in front of the park. This is to protect boats from the falling debris. Police boats will enforce this area for everyones safety.
4. Be respectful and avoid extremely loud music with those around you.
5. There will be a zero tolerance for disposing of litter or cans in the lake and all violators will be charged.
6. When the show is over, SLOWLY progress underway out of the show area. Congestion, darkness, and low water levels can prove hazardous.
7. The marine police can be reached on Channel 16 of your radio
All of us at usedboatyard.com want to wish you the happiest 4th of July, stay safe and be mindful of others!