Boat Safety Tips to Protect Yourself on the Water

Recreational boating is a favorite New England pastime and a great way to enjoy time with family and friends. By taking a few simple precautions, everyone on board can take pleasure in the water and stay safe.

It is especially important to wear life jackets and limit alcohol consumption on the water. More than 90 percent of boat drowning victims are not wearing life jackets and alcohol use is involved in one of five reported boating fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The most important reason to remember safety on the water is our decisions may have tragic and permanent consequences when we return to shore,” said Boston personal injury attorney Marc L. Breakstone.

Boating Safety Tips
  • Listen to the weather forecast before going out onto the water. Avoid boating in strong winds and thunder storms.

  • Never use a boat alone.

  • Take periodic boat safety courses.

  • Maintain a safe speed of travel based on boating and weather conditions.

  • Do not operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. You can cause serious injuries and in Massachusetts, those charged with a first offense of boating under the influence can face imprisonment, fines and loss of their motor vehicle license and boat registration for one year. There are harsher penalties if a boater causes serious injury or wrongful death while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Passengers should also limit alcohol consumption, especially when out on the water for long periods of time. Alcohol use is involved in up to half of teen and adult deaths associated with water recreation, according to the CDC.

  • Operate with caution. You are liable for damages caused by direct contact with your boat as well as its wake.

  • Avoid boating in the dark of night. If you do, make sure you are familiar with the area and use the proper night navigation signals.

  • Never fuel a boat with passengers on board.

  • Make sure you have a working marine radio on the water as well as a cell phone.

  • Always wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. 

  • Tell a family member or friend your boating trip plan in case of emergency. 

  • Check the boat’s capacity plate for the maximum weight and passenger limit.

  • Be just as careful when the boat engine is off. Some 46 percent of all boating fatalities occur when boats are docked, anchored or drifting, according to the CDC.

  • Do not sit on the boat railings or any area that is not designed as a seat.

  • When using fishing equipment on a small boat, make sure you have room to safely cast your line.

  • Make sure fishing rods are properly secured when you are not using. Rods should be corked or placed in a hook safety cover.

  • Do not travel with teenage operators. Operators who are 16 years of age may operate motor boats in Massachusetts without restrictions, but young boaters lack the experience to properly respond to water conditions.

  • Be aware that Massachusetts has different operator and safety requirements for waterskiing and personal water craft than boating.
The Massachusetts personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck promote safety through education. We have have over 80 years combined experience handling accident cases. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
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