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Cool ocean breezes on a hot summer day and the freedom of an open sea make boating a favorite pastime for many people. It’s a lifestyle for numerous Long Islanders. However, many boaters are complacent, and don’t take precautions or boating laws serious enough, which can (and has) caused tragedy. If you live on Long Island go out boating for leisure, this post can be extremely informative and perhaps save you from ever enduring a boating accident. Following the laws of boating and ensuring your safety as well as the safety of others on your boat or on the water is vital to both experiencing enjoyable rides and avoiding boating accidents.
The US Coast Guard Recommends the Following Safety Precautions
According to the US Coastguard (USCG), hundreds of people die and thousands suffer injury every year from preventable recreational boating accidents. We cannot overstate how important it is to follow the laws of boating and take the necessary precautions to avoid such tragedies:
- Wearing a life jacket – The USCG indicates that wearing life jackets would save the lives of more than 80% of people who die while boating. Boating accidents often happen quickly, leaving no time to grab a life jacket
- Filing a float plan – A float plan is a form that contains details, such as who is on the boat, your boating destination, radio contact, details about your vessel, estimated check in times, who to contact in the event of an emergency, etc. The USCG recommends filling out float plans not just when using larger boats but also for people canoeing, kayaking, rafting, jet skiing, etc.
- Receiving a vessel safety check. The USCG will check your vessel for free to determine whether it’s safe and provide helpful safety suggestions
There are also numerous other precautions you can take, which include taking courses on boating, learning to swim and avoiding alcohol or drug use. Here are some other tips not stated by law, but extremely useful in regards to safe boating:
- Before even planning an adventure at sea, check the weather forecast – check it weeks before, the day before, the morning of, and right before – bad weather can lead to catastrophe if you’re boating
- Understand the navigational aids of the sea, such as buoys, and stay within safe, non-shallow waters – the last thing you want is to destroy your engine if it starts sucking up sand – not only can it be dangerous and unlawful not to follow navigational aids, it can also destroy your boat
- Entirely avoid large vessels – they do not have the same capability of turning or stopping as smaller boats do, so if you see a large vessel, navigate safely away from them
- Always have at least another person on board who knows how to drive the boat – in the incident that the driver is injured, the other individual who’s familiar with your boat’s handling, operation, and these safety tips (make sure to inform them) will have to take over driving the boat
- Take a boating course – it can’t hurt, and you’ll be less anxious if you know more about how to fully operate a boat and what to do in case you’re ever stuck or in a dangerous situation
- Learn how to swim – in the case of an emergency, if your boat breaks down for example, you may need to swim to shore…but never, ever swim close to a boat – swimming too close to a boat could very well lead to catastrophe
While in many instances a boating accident is the fault of the boat owner or participants, this is not always true. If someone else’s negligence or recklessness causes a boating accident, you may have legal recourse to recover damages. Hospital and medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and lost future income due to disabling injuries are matters you can discuss with an experienced lawyer.