Memorial Day weekend is the start to many Georgians spending their weekend on the lake. Many people enjoy boating for leisure and a vacation activity, but boating accidents can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities without proper safety precautions. It’s vital for boat owners and passengers to know how to prevent boating accidents.
Before setting out on any journey on the water, it’s crucial for boat owners and operators to prepare accordingly. This means taking weather and water conditions into account, briefing passengers on safety issues and expectations for conduct aboard the vessel, and having a plan for navigation and in case of emergency. A boat operator should also know each passenger’s swimming ability level and any medical issues that could become a problem on the water.
Follow Posted Safety Warnings
Many boating areas have specific instructions for appropriate conduct. For example, some popular boating locations have “No Wake” zones, in which it is illegal for a boat operator to travel at a high speed to produce a wake behind the boat. Creating a wake in a no-wake zone can cause other boaters’ vessels to capsize, potentially leading to serious injuries. A wake can also hit a swimmer, causing disorientation or collision with the boat or underwater hazards.
Most boating areas will also have buoys, markers, and signs about water hazards. If you notice signs that prohibit boating within a specific area, avoid traveling through that area. Failing to do so can not only lead to serious injuries to you or your passengers, but legal trouble as well.
The Right Equipment
Boat owners and operators need to ensure they have all necessary equipment before setting out on the water. This includes not only safety gear, but other equipment for safe operation. There should be one functional life preserver or lifejacket for each passenger on the boat. It’s also wise to carry first aid supplies to treat minor injuries and flares in case of emergency. Many boat owners keep flare guns on board to signal for help if the vessel becomes stranded or disabled. It’s also wise to keep tools onboard for fixing minor vehicle issues. Boat owners should also keep a fire extinguisher onboard in case of fires and plugging devices in case of a leak. Boaters should carry emergency supplies of oil and fuel, if possible.
Proper Vehicle Maintenance
Some boat owners only use their vessels during certain times of the year. However, they must still perform any necessary maintenance even when the boat is not in use. Boat owners must have their vessels’ engines routinely inspected and serviced when necessary. If a boat owner fails to perform proper maintenance on a boat, and this inaction leads to passenger injury, the boat owner will likely absorb liability for the injured passenger’s damages. Boat owners should conduct an extensive check of the boat’s engine before embarking. If you smell fumes or a gas leak, address the issue before continuing with your boating plans. A fuel leak while on the water can lead to a fire or explosion and serious injuries to passengers.
Safe Boating Practices
In addition to following posted warnings and the area’s boating laws, boat operators must exercise the same degree of care as they do when driving a car. Avoid traveling at high speeds if other vessels or swimmers are nearby. It’s much more difficult for a boat to come to a stop on the water than it is for a car to brake to a stop on the road, so make sure to account for this when accelerating and decelerating the vessel.
Many boating accidents occur due to drugs and alcohol. Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will typically lead to a boating under the influence (BUI) charge and also puts passengers at risk. Boat operators should avoid consuming alcohol or other drugs before engaging in any boating activities. By following these tips, boaters can enjoy the water in safety and comfort with minimal chance of injury.
If you have been injured in a boating accident and believe you are entitled to compensation, contact Kaufman Law to discuss your potential case.
Have a safe and fun Memorial Day!