Injury Prevention & Treatment

Boating Safety Tips for Summer


Summer is coming, and so is the boating season. Whether you’re taking to the water in a canoe, kayak, or motorboat, you should keep in mind some basic safety tips.

Here, from the experts at the Mayo Clinic, is what you need to know to stay safe and happy on the water:

Leave the alcohol on shore.

Be a weather-watcher. Check the forecast before setting out, the Mayo experts say. If you do get caught in a storm, get back to shore as quickly as possible.

Share the details of your trip. Tell your plan to a friend who won’t be with you. Tell him or her who’s on the boat, where you are going and how long you’ll be gone.

Be prepared for any emergency on the water. Follow a pre-departure checklist to be sure that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten. [Editor’s note: For a sample pre-departure checklist from the website , click here.]

Keep your eye on the kids. This holds true even if the children are good swimmers or have on life jackets.

“Drive” at a sensible speed. Maintain a safe speed, the Mayo experts say, Operate at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Keep out of the way of large vessels.

Be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. They have been put in place to ensure your safety.

Make sure that more than one person is familiar with all aspects of the boat’s handling and operations.

And, according to the National Safe Boating Council, learning to swim is one of the most important ways to stay safe on the water. But even expert swimmers can get into trouble. It’s important to be sure that everyone in the watercraft is wearing a life jacket.

“Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that watercraft accident victims are more likely to survive if they are wearing a life jacket,” says Janet Chestnut, M.D., Emergency Department director at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, MN. “There are excellent models of life jackets that are comfortable and easy to put, so there really is no excuse not to wear one.”

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