Batten Down These Boating Emergency Preparations

If you own a small or medium-sized boat, you need to prepare for any eventuality on the water. When far from shore you can not just run for help to plug a sudden leak, restart an engine or pull a passenger from the water. If you own a watercraft, you need to protect your passengers and the craft itself. Buoy up your boating confidence by taking these steps to make ready your vessel for emergencies under any condition.

Inspect and Maintain

Boats operate under adverse conditions: Water, sun and heavy loads all take a toll on boat reliability. You may not spot impending problems, but experts can diagnose issues before they grow significantly. Have a boating mechanic inspect your boat at least once per year and perform maintenance. Also, learn how to check over your boat yourself before every excursion; create a checklist you follow without fail.

Pack Repair supplies

The more you know about your boat, the more likely you can make a fix on the water. Keep a stockpile of general repair parts readily accessible. For example, because rubber hoses are susceptible to cracking from age and the elements, pack a knife for cutting hoses to size and marine hose clamps for re-securing the hose. Duct tape is also is an all-purpose fix essential for covering holes and bare wire or securing unstable pieces of the boat or its systems.

Include Safety Gear

Boating laws dictate you need to store flotation devices on board any water vessels. No matter how far you go onto the water, you should carry life jackets for every passenger. Pack extras covering passengers of various ages and sizes in case you have an unanticipated guest list. Also, secure fire extinguishers, flares and marine radios. Teach your passengers how to put on the life vests and use the extinguishers and distress signals.

Pack Weather Gear

On the water, the weather can change without significant warning. Passengers may come to the docks not anticipating these changes. Warm jackets and rain gear may be necessary to stave off hypothermia during a sudden cold rainstorm, so fill a trunk full of these in various sizes. Do not assume your guests understand the effects of the sun either, so fill your hold with sunscreen, extra water and even a few pairs of sunglasses.

As a captain on the water, you are in charge of ensuring the safety of your passengers on lakes, rivers or oceans. By keeping your boat in tip-top shape and supplying your vessel with items for any contingency, you can ensure a safe day on the water, one that is memorable for all the right reasons.

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