May 20-26th is Safe Boating Week with an emphasis on the National Safe Boating Council Slogan, WEAR IT. About 80% of people who drown were not wearing a life jacket. New styles that automatically or manually inflate, as well as lightweight, standard type III, are popular choices for recreational boaters.
It is a good time to examine your life jackets. Make sure fabric, straps, buckles and flotation materials remain in prime condition. If there’s any doubt, replace them. If you have inflatable life jackets, remove and inspect the CO2 cartridges.
It also a good time to check your equipment.
1. Check the expiration date on your flares.
2. Shake the fire extinguishers while inverted to be sure the contents are not packed. If a fire extinguisher has no gauge, it must be serviced and tagged to pass inspection. They also need to be readily available.
3. Check the horn; you are required to have a functioning Coast Guard-approved sound-producing device on board.
4. Lift the float switch on the automatic bilge pump to ensure that it turns on the pump.
5. Inspect the anchor rode and ground tackle.
6. Verify the navigation lights are working.
7. Make sure the VHF marine radio is functioning properly.
Boating safety means more than just making sure you have all the required equipment, you and your crew should know how to use them. If you become injured or disabled, a well-trained crew could save lives. Teach them how to use the marine radio and electronics. Run a fire and man overboard drill.
Happy Boating – Be Safe