On July 4, America celebrates its Independence Day. This is a huge day for boating beacuse everyone knows that the very best place to watch fireworks is from a boat! This, of course, does make for some heavy traffic along the Florida waterways which can lead to danger if safety measures are not implemented. Here is our list of Boat Safety tips for 4th of July, adapted from a Sea Tow article published last year. Please take time to plan your activities and remember that safety ALWAYS comes first.
1. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE! This applies to boats as well as cars. Remember, a boat is a large moving object without brakes. Designate a sober driver to operate the helm at all times.
2. Wear your life jacket. Make sure everyone onboard is wearing a traditional life jacket that fits properly or an inflatable PFD. This is true even if you know how to swim; if there is an accident and you are knocked overboard unconscious, the life jacket WILL save your life.
3. Watch your vessel's weight restrictions and don’t overload the boat. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or near the helm, or lookup the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.
4. Careful at nighttime! It may be quite challenging to spot the usual navigation markers at night. Chart your route in advance and use your GPS to help you find your course, if necessary.
5. Follow the directions that the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary issue about where you may safely anchor to view fireworks away from sparks and ash.
6. Don't rush. Don’t be in such a hurry to get home after the fireworks. There have been terrible boating accidents which resulted from too many people rushing from one spot. It is best to let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the days' festivities.
Please do keep these safety tips on top of mind whenever you step into your boat over the weekend. A little planning and conscious effort can ensure everyone on your boat stays safe and returns home safely with beautiful memories. We hope that you have very happy- and very safe - 4th of July weekend.