Fall boating season has arrived, and with it come different types of risks that cold water and air temperatures bring. Here are three boating safety tips from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water just right for leaf peeping season.
A float plan is needed: A float plan is as simple as telling a responsible person where you will be going and when you’ll be back. With fewer other boats on the water (potential Good Samaritans) after Labor Day, a float plan ensures rescuers will be notified if you ever fail to check back in after your outing. Additionally, leaving a note under your vehicle’s windshield wiper at the launch ramp can help trigger an alarm.
Got a way back into the boat? Falls overboard may be ranked #5 on the 2021 U.S. Coast Guard’s list of the “Top Five Primary Accident Types” with 273 accidents, but they also led the most number of deaths (170 fatal), as well as more fatalities than all the other 4 top accident types combined (#1 collision with vessel-1226 accidents/31 fatal; #2 collision with fixed object- 508 accidents/43 fatal; #3 flooding/swamping-461 accidents/55 fatal; #4 grounding-308 accidents/23 fatal). Your boarding ladder should be functional and accessible as cold water can quickly sap strength. If your boat
doesn’t have a built in-ladder, a compact emergency ladder or even a looped line attached to a cleat, pre-rigged with foothold loops every few inches and hung over the transom, can substitute.
For life jackets, camo styling hides a danger: Dark green, tan and black camo patterns are remarkable at doing exactly as designed, blending you into your surroundings. However, that’s not a benefit if you happen to be floating in the water and rescuers are searching. If possible, make their job easier and wear a life jacket with high visibility. For smaller vessels and paddlers, leaf peeping season is also a really good time to secure the life jacket to your body – that includes using buckle snaps.