Though plenty of boaters prefer staying dry on their trips on the water, many others love to enjoy cooling off in the water during these hot summer months. The ocean, streams and even relatively placid lakes can be far different beasts than the swimming pools that most are more familiar with. Before you or your loved ones take a dip, make sure you know these water safety tips to help keep your next boating trip a safe one.
- Stay Sober: As we’ve warned before, drinking and boating can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. The safety risks also apply to swimming after knocking back a few. As alcohol dehydrates you (on top of the scorching sun) and impairs your judgment, it’s easy to see the potential risks you face when trying to swim while impaired. Save the drinks for when you’re back on shore.
- Stay Aware: Keep a close eye on friends and family who decide to take a dip. It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of people, especially when currents and waves can unknowingly drift swimmers from your boat. Kids and the elderly are especially important to watch, as they can sometimes lose track of the boat or become fatigued more quickly than others.
- Watch the Weather: Especially in the summer months, weather can be… temperamental. Always keep track of the local forecast and an eye out for dark clouds and thunder. At the first signs that a storm may be brewing, pack it in and head back to shore before the waterworks begin. Lightning, especially in Florida, is a deadly serious concern that you do not want to play with.
- PFDs for Added Protection: Personal floatation devices (PFDs), aka life jackets, can quite literally be lifesavers when enjoying time on the water. Though you won’t be doing any diving in them, having a PFD on can keep your head above water if you drift away or simply run out of steam while swimming, giving the boater, or emergency services, enough time to reach you and bring you safely back on board.
- Never Go Alone: Though we all need a bit of “me” time, going for a swim when boating alone can be a costly mistake. As we stated above, waters can be deceptive, and you can find yourself pulled away from your boat by an unseen current. Even with company, you should let someone on shore know your plan for the day, including float plan and schedule, just in case.
Armed with these water safety tips, we hope you all enjoy the summer on, and in, the water. Just try to keep the drinks for later, keep a close eye on swimmers, watch for bad weather, keep a PFD on and never go it alone as it’s always important that you have a blast without putting safety on the back burner. Have fun and we’ll see you on the water.